Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a memorable drop in the regular season, but the Chiefs weren’t afraid to go back to him in a big spot on Sunday.
On third-and-9 on the final play before the two-minute warning, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes went deep to Valdes-Scantling for 32-yard gain. The Ravens were out of timeouts, which meant Mahomes could then take knees until the clock ran out on a 17-10 win.
The win sends the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the last five years and leaves Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson short of his first trip to the big game. The Chiefs will try to be the first team since the 2003-2004 Patriots to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
When the Ravens look back on the loss, they’ll regret several mistakes. Zay Flowers lost a fumble just outside the end zone to kill one second half scoring chance and Jackson was intercepted in the end zone by safety Deon Bush to kill another one. Jackson also lost a fumble on a sack by Charles Omenihu and the Ravens were flagged for five personal fouls over the course of the loss.
Those kinds of miscues were not a regular part of the program for the Ravens over the course of the season and the Chiefs defense deserves a lot of credit for making life difficult on Jackson. The Ravens ran just 22 plays in the first half and they forced a pair of punts in the third quarter to keep the Ravens at bay while their own offense slowed down. Omenihu’s sack was one of four that the Chiefs had in a game that didn’t go as Jackson would have liked.
Mahomes will have no such complaints. The Chiefs were shut out in the second half, but the throw to Valdes-Scantling — who also had a pair of big catches in Buffalo — capped an efficient night that will enhance the quarterback’s already massive legacy. He was 30-of-39 for 241 yards and a touchdown to longtime partner Travis Kelce. It’s the 17th time they’ve hooked up for a touchdown and Kelce ended the night with 11 catches for 116 yards.
Kelce now has an NFL-record 156 career playoff catches and he’ll get a chance to add to that total as he, Mahomes, head coach Andy Reid and the rest of the Chiefs continue their run in Las Vegas.