Ravens aim to use ball-con­trol of­fense to slow down Chiefs

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Dave Skretta

KANSAS CITY, MO. >> Lamar Jackson knows that he will play a big part in stop­ping the high-fly­ing Kansas City Chiefs of­fense when he leads the Bal­ti­more Ravens into Ar­row­head Sta­dium on Sun­day.

He won’t make a tackle, though, or cause a fum­ble or in­ter­cept a pass.

That’s be­cause stop­ping Patrick Ma­homes and Co. be­gins with keep­ing them on the side­line. And to do that, the Ravens quar­ter­back needs to make sure he keeps his own of­fense on the field.

“What­ever it takes, we’re go­ing to help them out,” Jackson said of the Ravens’ top-ranked de­fense, “keep the clock run­ning, keep the ball in our pos­ses­sion.”

The Ravens have been good at that all sea­son.

Even be­fore Jackson took over for Joe Flacco, who re­mained lim­ited in prac­tice this week with a hip in­jury, the Ravens em­ployed a ball-con­trol style of­fense. Their av­er­age time of pos­ses­sion is nearly 32 min­utes a game, third-best in the NFL, and that in turn has helped Bal­ti­more lead the NFL in scor­ing de­fense.

It has been even more pro­nounced af­ter Jackson went un­der cen­ter, though. He has 265 yards rush­ing to set a quar­ter­back record for a player’s first three starts in the Su­per Bowl era, and the Ravens have run for at least 200 yards as a team in each game dur­ing the cor­re­spond­ing three-game win streak — they are the first team since the 2010 Jaguars to ac­com­plish that feat.

In last week’s vic­tory over the Fal­cons, who have a score-a-minute of­fense in their own right, the Ravens held the ball for an as­tound­ing 39 min­utes, 39 sec­onds. They did so by pil­ing up 25 first downs, half of those com­ing on the ground, and run­ning 77 plays to just 45 for the Fal­cons.

“When you’re on the field for 20 per­cent less than what you nor­mally have been, you’re ob­vi­ously go­ing to play bet­ter de­fense and play bet­ter as a team,” Ravens safety Eric Wed­dle said.

“Play great de­fense, con­trol the clock, play great on spe­cial teams, you have a shot at win­ning. That’s been known here over the years of the way the Ravens play, and we’re go­ing to con­tinue to do that.”

The Chiefs are quite nearly the di­a­met­ric op­po­site.

Only four times in their first 12 games have they pos­sessed the ball more than their op­po­nents, and that was with reign­ing NFL rush­ing champ Ka­reem Hunt in the back­field for the first 11 of them.

Hunt was re­leased last week af­ter a series of offthe-field is­sues be­came pub­lic.

In fact, both of the Chiefs’ losses this sea­son — at the Pa­tri­ots and Rams — have come when they’ve lost the time of pos­ses­sion bat­tle. It was par­tic­u­larly lop­sided in New Eng­land, when the Chiefs had the ball for less than 24 min­utes in what be­came a 43-40 shootout loss to Tom Brady and Co.

One of the big rea­sons for the dis­par­ity is that Kansas City sim­ply scores fast, av­er­ag­ing an NFL-lead­ing 37 points per game. The Chiefs’ quick­strike of­fense cen­ters around Ma­homes dis­tribut­ing to one of the deep­est sta­bles of skill-po­si­tion ta­lent in the league, head­lined by speed­sters Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins and their ver­sa­tile, big-play tight end Travis Kelce.

Ma­homes has a league­lead­ing 43 throws of at least 25 yards this sea­son. Quite a few of those have been part of his NFL-best and fran­chise-record 41 touch­down tosses.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.