January 28, 2024 – 8:21 PM PST
The Kansas City Chiefs are in the favorite’s role so often that Patrick Mahomes simply can’t grasp the underdog label.
And when it comes to a big game, there is no current quarterback better to have on your side than Mahomes.
Mahomes improved to 14-3 as a starting quarterback in the postseason and the Chiefs are off to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons after recording a 17-10 victory over the host Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.
The top-seeded Ravens sabotaged themselves with three turnovers while the third-seeded Chiefs played mistake-free football in winning on the road for the second straight week. Kansas City beat the Buffalo Bills 27-24 in the divisional round.
“We’ve been underdogs for the last few games, but we never feel like underdogs,” Mahomes said. “We got a lot of guys on this team that know how to win, and when playoffs came around, we knew we were going to make it happen.”
Travis Kelce caught a touchdown pass and had 11 receptions for 116 yards to set the NFL postseason record for receptions.
Kelce has 156 career postseason receptions, claiming the all-time mark from legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice (151). He also matched the Hall of Famer with his eighth career 100-yard receiving game in the playoffs.
The Chiefs will face the 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas. San Francisco beat the Detroit Lions 34-31 later Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.
“I never think it’s about the destination, but the journey to get to the destination,” said defensive end Chris Jones, one of the many Chiefs players looking to win a second consecutive Super Bowl.
Kansas City beat the Philadelphia Eagles last season.
Mahomes completed 30 of 39 passes for 241 yards and L’Jarius Sneed and Deon Bush had critical fourth-quarter takeaways for the Chiefs. Isiah Pacheco rushed for a touchdown for Kansas City.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was 20-of-37 passing for 272 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He added a team-high 54 rushing yards but was sacked four times.
Jackson might be the favorite to win NFL MVP honors, but he certainly wasn’t in top form during his first career AFC Championship Game.
“I’m angry about losing,” Jackson said. “We were a game away from the Super Bowl. We’ve been waiting all this time, all these moments for an opportunity like this and we fell short.”
Zay Flowers caught five passes for 115 yards and a touchdown but also lost a fumble reaching for the goal line, resulting in a fourth-quarter touchback.
Roquan Smith racked up 16 tackles for Baltimore, which committed three turnovers while Kansas City didn’t commit any and possessed the ball for 37:30. Baltimore was penalized eight times, five for first downs, for 95 yards.
“Today we weren’t good enough,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Congratulations to the Chiefs. They won the game but that doesn’t take away one thing from what we’ve done this year.
“We didn’t make enough plays to win the game.”
The Ravens moved within 17-10 on Justin Tucker’s 43-yard field goal with 2:34 left.
Any chance of getting the ball back evaporated when Mahomes lobbed a 32-yard completion to Marquez Valdes-Scantling just before the two-minute warning. The Chiefs took a knee three times to run out the clock.
Baltimore was trailing by 10 when it missed a big opportunity, as Sneed forced Flowers to fumble at the Kansas City 1-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Chiefs’ Trent McDuffie recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
On their next possession, the Ravens reached the Chiefs 25, but Jackson threw into triple coverage toward tight end Isaiah Likely. Bush, in the game for only one previous play as a substitute for injured safety Mike Edwards, intercepted the pass in the end zone with 6:45 left.
Kansas City outgained the Ravens 221-110 while taking a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Chiefs struck first when Mahomes connected on a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kelce with 7:41 left in the first quarter. The touchdown catch was Kelce’s 19th in postseason play, leaving him three short of Rice’s record.
Baltimore knotted the score less than three minutes later when Jackson tossed a 30-yard scoring pass to Flowers. Jackson avoided a sack attempt by Leo Chenal before spotting Flowers behind the Kansas City defense.
The Chiefs took the lead on Pacheco’s 2-yard scoring run with 10:56 remaining in the second quarter. Kansas City traveled in dominating fashion, moving 75 yards on 16 plays in 9:02.
Harrison Butker tacked on a 52-yard field goal with four seconds left in the first half.
–Field Level Media