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Here now begins a few days of the NFL world’s favorite game:

Did we just see the blueprint to beat the Chiefs?

The Chiefs lost to the Ravens 36-35 here on Sunday night, and like most football games the outcome would take hours to thoroughly dissect.

We will try to do it in one paragraph:

The Ravens controlled both lines of scrimmage, especially when they were on offense. The Chiefs did not score in the last 21 minutes, 50 seconds, a combination of the Ravens playing good defense, Patrick Mahomes throwing a bone-headed interception and Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s first fumble as a professional.

The Ravens were resilient, winning despite two interceptions by Lamar Jackson in the first quarter, and despite the usual highlights from Mahomes. They dominated on the ground, with an offensive line that blew open holes and playmakers that made good for 251 total rushing yards and 6.1 yards per attempt.

The stats and film will be consulted for certainty, but at least on first look it looked like the Ravens went away from the blitz-heavy scheme that’s earned them success against most of the NFL and consistent nightmares against the Chiefs.

The results were … mixed?

The Ravens didn’t blitz on Mahomes’ first touchdown pass, for instance. And they even got pressure! Mahomes had to slide off his spot and throw off platform, the kind of play Myles Garrett was cursing last week. This time Mahomes found Demarcus Robinson, who did well to come down with the ball in bounds.

The Ravens did blitz on Mahomes’ second and third touchdown passes, and obviously that didn’t work out very well, but at some point maybe we can agree that stopping the Chiefs is more complicated than deciding whether to blitz or not.

The plan appeared to be heavy on Hill (no deep targets) and Kelce (on one play he faced press man coverage from two defenders). That’s logical, and effective as far as it goes, but Kelce still got loose on a broken play and the Chiefs have too many weapons and too much creativity to believe in blueprints.

This was interesting: Andy Reid called his first run play inside the 5, and it was a handoff to Darrel Williams designed to follow the three rookies on the right side of the offensive line. Williams scored easily.

The first half turnovers masked an up-front gashing of the Chiefs defense. The Ravens offensive line did whatever it wanted, which was often to move the Chiefs’ biggest defenders decisively and without prejudice.

Perspective is important: This is the second straight game the Chiefs faced one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and run games. But these are also teams the Chiefs should be expecting in the playoffs, and when Ravens coach John Harbaugh watches the film he’ll probably be asking why he ever called even one pass.

If these teams play again in January, maybe he won’t.


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