Mahomes and Kelce combine to beat Ravens and send Chiefs back to Super Bowl

Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce were at their best in the first half, and Kansas City’s defense delivered another masterpiece against Lamar Jackson and Baltimore, helping the Chiefs reach the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years with a 17-10 victory in the first half. AFC championship game on Sunday.

Kelce caught 11 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown, and the 34-year-old was at his best when it really mattered. In the process, Kelce broke Jerry Rice’s NFL career record for most postseason catches. He now has 156 in 21 playoff games.

β€œThe Chiefs are still the Chiefs,” Kelce said. ‘And believe it: you have to fight for your right to party! Believe it, honey, we’re going to Las Vegas.

Kansas City will face San Francisco or Detroit in next month’s Super Bowl, and a win would make the Chiefs the first team to win it all in consecutive seasons since the New England Patriots 19 years ago.

The presence of Kelce’s partner, Taylor Swift, has made the Chiefs even more of a glam team than they already were, but it has been more of a blue-collar performance on the field this season. Aside from Kelce, Mahomes hasn’t had the receiving playmakers he’s enjoyed in recent years.

Instead, defense has played a huge role in why Kansas City won the AFC West and ultimately prevailed in two straight playoff games against Buffalo and Baltimore to win the conference.

β€œ(The Ravens) were going to challenge us, and the guys stepped up and made plays,” Mahomes told CBS after the game. β€œWe took on the challenge, and we got better at it.”

The Chiefs led 17–7 at halftime, and Justin Tucker’s 43-yard field goal with 2:34 to play was the only score of the second half. Baltimore then punted deep and on third-and-9, Mahomes connected with Marquez Valdes-Scantling – one of its most maligned receivers – on a 32-yard pass that sealed the game.

Mahomes went 30 of 39 for 241 yards and a touchdown.

β€œWe’ve been underdogs the last few games, but we never feel like underdogs,” Mahomes said. β€œWe have a lot of guys on this team that know how to win. And when the playoffs came, I knew we were going to make it happen.”

Jackson could win his second MVP after leading Baltimore to the league’s best record and point differential during the regular season, but the Ravens allowed touchdowns on Kansas City’s first two possessions and looked a bit panicky at times afterward.

Baltimore made undisciplined errors all game long, while Kansas City looked to be the team’s sixth straight conference title appearance.

With the Ravens trailing by 10 in the third quarter, rookie Zay Flowers caught a 54-yard pass to the Kansas City 10 before being flagged for taunting after the play. Moments later he then fumbled near the goal line brilliant work by L’Jarius Sneed and the Ravens finished with no points.

That was one of many frustrating moments for Baltimore fans, whose city hosted an AFC Championship Game for the first time since January 1971, when the Colts defeated the Oakland Raiders.

Jackson went 20 of 37 for 272 yards and a touchdown, but Baltimore never really took advantage of their perceived advantage on the ground. Jackson raced under one of his own tipped passes for a 13-yard reception in the first half, but he also turned the ball over twice, including a forced pass in heavy coverage that was picked off in the end zone with 6:45 left in the game.

Mahomes, meanwhile, attempted his first 11 passes, and although the Ravens largely shut down Kansas City afterward, the damage was done on a rainy day in Baltimore.

There was some chippy behavior before the game, including Ravens defensive back Arthur Maulet and a group of Kansas City players having to be separated.

Then the Chiefs forced a three-and-out on the game’s first drive and went 86 yards for the opening touchdown. Kelce caught a 13-yard pass from Mahomes over the middle on fourth-and-2. Then the tight end beat All-Pro safety Kyle Hamilton for a 19-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.

Jackson responded in his own spectacular way. He broke free for a 21-yard run when Baltimore went for it on fourth-and-1 from their 34. Then the quarterback dove out of a near-sack by Leo Chenal, retreated a bit further and threw for a 30-yard score. strike to Flowers, who celebrated with teammates by doing the “swag surf” dance that Swift and Chiefs fans did at a recent game.

Kansas City wasn’t bothered. Mahomes drove his team 75 yards in 9:02 β€” with the help of an acrobatic diving catch from Kelce on a third-down toss β€” and Isiah Pacheco capped the 16-play march with a two-yard touchdown run.

The Chiefs actually missed opportunities to extend their lead. A sack by Charles Omenihu forced a fumble by Jackson that gave Kansas City the ball at the Baltimore 33. But Kelce was flagged just short on a third-down catch, and Pacheco was stopped on the ensuing fourth down at the 13.

After a pair of personal fouls on Baltimore helped Kansas City cross midfield late in the half, the Chiefs were flagged for back-to-back holding calls, the second of which wiped out a 33-yard screen pass to Rashee Rice for what would have occurred . was a touchdown.

A nine-yard pass to Kelce put Kansas City in position for Harrison Butker’s 52-yard field goal, making the score 17-7.