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AFC North

Film room: How the Chiefs beat the Ravens’ man coverage in MNF win

Patrick Mahomes. Photo By Tennessee Titans. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)

It was billed as a matchup for the ages: two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks going head-to-head on Monday Night Football.

What it turned out to be was a statement win by the Kansas City Chiefs, who beat the Baltimore Ravens 34-20 on Monday to improve to 3-0 on the young NFL season.

Led by Mahomes and star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs were able to dismantle the Ravens’ man coverage throughout the evening, whether by play design or through sheer talent. Here’s a breakdown of how Kansas City did it:

Hill beats off-coverage

Early in Monday’s game, Hill made a big play against Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters, who was playing off-coverage, which means he aligns around 5-10 yards away from the receiver at the snap.

Hill is simply too quick and shifty to beat in off-coverage. The space given allows him to make any move he wants, and his cuts are too quick for most defenders to catch up with him from that distance.

He makes Peters pay on this play, putting the Chiefs in good scoring position near the goal line.

No eyes on the fullback

A signature play for Kansas City on Monday was a short scoring pass from Mahomes to fullback Anthony Sherman. It was largely made possible by Baltimore’s adherence to man coverage.

At the goal line, Baltimore’s defenders are so focused on wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson and tight end Travis Kelce because of man coverage that they are taken away from the play’s true recipient: Sherman.

The unlikely receiver takes the quick pass from Mahomes into the end zone, a beautiful play design aided by the Ravens’ choice to go man coverage.

Mahomes out-throws tight coverage

Sometimes the coverage is good, but the offensive execution is just better.

Mahomes made a beautiful play on one of his multiple touchdown passes, connecting with Hill on a scoring pass into the corner of the end zone.

Peters plays great man coverage, hanging with Hill the entire way. But Mahomes’s throw was just too accurate, and Hill’s talent just too plentiful, for it to matter.

Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale clearly wanted to test Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s unit through man coverage calls, forcing the Chiefs to out-play defenders one-on-one. 

Unfortunately for Baltimore, Kansas City’s players did just that.

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