OWINGS MILLS — Arguably the most memorable play of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ MVP season a year ago came at the expense of the Baltimore Ravens.
With the two teams competing in a critical Week 14 contest at Arrowhead Stadium in Missouri, Mahomes danced around the pressure and completed a “no-look” pass to Demarcus Robinson across the middle, hitting the receiver in stride despite not looking in his direction.
“The no-look pass? That actually started with me last year,” remembered Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who was covering Robinson on Mahomes’ unorthodox pass play. “I just kind of fell off of my man and was running with him. The ball came out of nowhere, I’ll say that.
“The best way [to defend it] is to be close to your man and be locked in.”
On Sunday, the Ravens (2-0) will be tasked with once again finding a way to stop Mahomes, whose 50 touchdowns a year ago tied for the second-best mark in NFL history.
“It’s definitely tough to simulate Pat Mahomes in practice, but you’ve just got to go through your typical practice week as normal, but maybe throw in a few extra scramble plays because he likes to make a lot of things happen even when nothing’s there,” Humphrey said. “Sometimes he throws guys open so it’s really tough when you’re going against a guy like that.”
Mahomes tossed four touchdowns in a win over the Oakland Raiders a week ago. He’s currently tied with Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson for the most touchdowns through the first two weeks (seven).
While No. 1 wide receiver Tyreek Hill remains out for an extended period with an injury suffered Week 1, there remains plenty of pass-catching weapons surrounding Mahomes. Robinson, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, veteran Sammy Watkins (198 receiving yards and three touchdowns Week 1) and rookie speedster Mecole Hardman (four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown last Sunday) provide the Kansas City offense with a plethora of firepower.
“Nothing changes. We prepare for these elite-caliber quarterbacks and teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, so we’re excited for the opportunity. We just have to cover until the whistle blows – extended downs, 60 minutes,” Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr said. “Just bring your ‘A’ game, bring your lunch pail, bring your hard hat. Let’s rock and roll.”
New to the matchup is Earl Thomas III, a former All-Pro safety who notably passed on the Chiefs and signed with the Ravens during the offseason after spending the first part of his career with the Seattle Seahawks.
Thomas has one interception through two games, but captains a defense that allowed six passing plays of 20 yards or more a week ago in a narrow, 23-17, win over the Arizona Cardinals.
“Last week, we kind of felt a little type of way, because we didn’t dominate like we wanted to dominate. But it was a lot of well-schemed-up plays. We got to watch the tape, and we learned from those mistakes. And hopefully, we get them corrected once we get out there against Kansas City, because it’s a copy-cat league,” Thomas said. “You just have to understand [Mahomes] explosive plays and that he’s going to come with some exotic stuff. We’re going to try to make them one-dimensional, stop the run, as usual, but it’s going to be a tough task on the road against him. He’s coming off a big game. It’s going to definitely challenge us.
“I think that comes down to personnel,” added Thomas. “Luckily, the Ravens have me playing free safety, controlling the deep end. I plan on eliminating all the big plays.”
Humphrey’s father, former Denver Broncos first-round pick Bobby Humphrey, reached out to his son with his advice ahead of Sunday’s matchup.
“My dad just sent me a text and said ‘You better have your track shoes on.’ I think I have a couple in my locker, and we’ll see where it goes,” Humphrey said. “They’ve got all those weapons around Mahomes, so it’s really going to test our defense. We think we’ve got some fast guys here [between] me and Carr, but Mecole Hardman runs a true 4.2 [40-yard dash], Sammy 4.3, Robinson 4.4. Those are all fast guys.”
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