Lamar Jackson has called the Kansas City Chiefs the Ravens’ “kryptonite,” and with good reason. In 38 regular-season games as the Ravens starting quarterback, Jackson is 30-5 against everyone else, but 0-3 against the Chiefs.
There was the game at Kansas City in Jackson’s rookie year, when Jackson nearly orchestrated a marvelous win, only to see Patrick Mahomes’ fourth-down, 48-yard miracle heave to Tyreek Hill set up the game-tying touchdown in a game the Chiefs won in overtime, 27-24.
There was the rematch at Kansas City the following year, when the Chiefs opened up a 23-6 first-half lead before holding off the Ravens, 33-28.
Then there was the highly anticipated game last year at M&T Bank Stadium — with no fans in attendance — in which the Ravens were held without an offensive touchdown for three quarters as the Chiefs rolled to a 34-20 win.
The narrative that is sure to be promoted by NBC, which will televise the Sunday night prime-time game, is Jackson vs. Mahomes, but that’s always a flawed premise. It’s Jackson and the Ravens’ offense against the Chiefs’ defense, and Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense against the Ravens’ defense.
Given how Ravens issues on both sides of the ball were exposed in a 33-27, season-opening overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders Sept. 13, that will be a challenge against the reigning two-time AFC champion.
“It’s not about me and Mahomes. Not to me, probably to everyone else,” Jackson said after the team’s walkthough workout Sept. 15. “It’s the Ravens vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. They did beat us three times or whatever, but that’s in the past. … I’m not dwelling on those losses. Come Sunday night, we’re going to play.”
In three meetings against the Chiefs, Jackson is 50-for-95 for 511 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His completion percentage of 52.6 against the Chiefs is the second-lowest against any opponent he has faced. (The only one lower is Seattle; he went 9-for-20 in his only game against the Seahawks in 2019.)
He has rushed 31 times for 196 yards and one touchdown against the Chiefs.
In the loss at home last year, Jackson was held to 35 yards passing in the first half and lost a fumble on a sack as the Chiefs raced to a 27-10 lead. The Ravens’ lone touchdown in the first half came on a 93-yard kickoff return by Devin Duvernay.
Jackson’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Nick Boyle early in the fourth quarter cut the Chiefs’ lead to 27-20, but Mahomes immediately led a 13-play touchdown drive that essentially put the game away.
This time around, Jackson won’t have Boyle, who is on injured reserve; he won’t have any of the running backs who played in that game, and he will have a revamped offensive line that looked highly vulnerable in the Week 1 loss at Las Vegas.
And this comes against a Chiefs defense featuring Pro Bowl defensive linemen Frank Clark and Chris Jones that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh figures will be “very aggressive. They’re going to try to create the illusion of chaos. You have to organize that, get it organized in your mind offensively and be ready to attack that.”
Reminded of his “kryptonite” comment after last year’s loss, Jackson said, “They did beat us three times, so it’s like, ‘Man, we’ve got to find a way to win.’ And hopefully, this Sunday night coming up will be different.”
FOUR RAVENS, INCLUDING MARQUISE BROWN, RONNIE STANLEY, MISS PRACTICE: Wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle), left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle), cornerback Chris Westry (knee) and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe (hip/back) missed the Ravens’ walkthrough practice Sept. 15.
Stanley’s status bears watching this week because the All-Pro tackle struggled in his first extended game action since his season-ending ankle injury last year. Stanley’s only preseason game action came on the opening drive (10 snaps) at Washington.
RAVENS PROMOTE LEVINE, ELLIS TO 53-MAN ROSTER, ADD TWO TO PRACTICE SQUAD: The Ravens promoted defensive back Anthony Levine and defensive lineman Justin Ellis from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Sept. 15. They also added tackle Andre Smith and cornerback Kevon Seymour to the practice squad.
Levine and Ellis, veterans who did not make the initial 53-man roster, were both elevated from the practice squad for the season-opener at Las Vegas. Smith had been with the Ravens in training camp and was cut from the practice squad last week.
Seymour was with the Philadelphia Eagles in training camp before the final roster cutdown. A 2016 sixth-round pick by the Buffalo Bills, Seymour spent his rookie season with the Bills and then played all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers in 2017. Injuries derailed his career, but he returned to the NFL with the Eagles last year, appearing in two games. He has 52 career tackles in 33 games, with about 40 percent of his career snaps coming on special teams.
The moves still leave the Ravens with two openings on the 53-man roster. The Ravens had 51 players on the 53-man roster for the Raiders game, and then placed Tyre Phillips (knee) on short-term injured reserve and waived running back Trenton Cannon Sept. 14.
HARBAUGH: BELL COULD PLAY VS. CHIEFS: With Cannon off the roster — he was subsequently claimed via waivers by the San Francisco 49ers — the Ravens have just two running backs on the 53-man roster and figure to promote either Devonta Freeman or Le’Veon Bell from the practice squad for the Chiefs game.
“We have four good guys in here,” Harbaugh said, “and those guys are all going to be a big part of what we’re doing going forward.” Harbaugh added that the Ravens were “very blessed” that the backs were available after J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill all suffered season-ending injuries.
Bell played part of last season for the Chiefs but then had a messy divorce in Kansas City, saying on social media he would retire before he would play for Chiefs head coach Andy Reid again.
Asked whether Bell might be promoted to face the Chiefs, Harbaugh briefly said, “There is a possibility of that, yes.”
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