Fri, 23 Oct 2020

The Big Difference in Facing Patrick Mahomes This Time

Baltimore Ravens
26 Sep 2020, 05:25 GMT+10

Ryan Mink

Marcus Peters is well aware of Patrick Mahomes' skills. Peters was a Chief in 2017 when Mahomes broke into the league as a first-round rookie, sitting behind Alex Smith and blowing minds running the scout team.

"[Shoot], I remember when he first started throwing the damn no-look pass in practice, and he's been doing it since he was a rookie. So, the dude is amazing," Peters said.

So, did Peters ever pick him off in practice?

"I can't remember back that far. I have kids and stuff now, so," Peters said with a laugh.

The Ravens have been burned by Mahomes before. Last year, he threw for 374 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-28 Chiefs win. In 2018, Mahomes completed an insane late-game fourth down heave to send the game to overtime. He threw for 377 yards in a 27-24 overtime Chiefs victory.

But the Ravens didn't have Peters in either of those games. They traded for him three weeks after coming home from Arrowhead Stadium last year. That makes a big difference this time around.

"It'll be interesting," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I'm really glad Marcus is here, and he's going to be a factor in the game - no question about it. He's a guy that they're going to have to understand where he's at at all times, and I'm sure they're thinking about that as they prepare."

Nobody is better at picking off quarterbacks than Peters, who has more (28) than any other player since he entered the league in 2015. In case anybody needed a reminder of that, Peters' diving interception in Houston last Sunday provided it.

"When it comes to getting the ball, I have the best guy in the league at that in Marcus Peters. And that's not really an opinion; that's just a fact," Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said.

Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid knows it.

"Marcus was an All-Pro player here and was one of the best that I've seen at that position," Reid said Thursday. "I have a ton of respect for him. He's a heck of a football player."

Peters isn't the only playmaker, or change, in the Ravens defense. His running mate, Humphrey, already has an interception and forced fumble through two games. Both plays set the tone for the game and got the defense rolling.

Mahomes also will have to deal with an improved Ravens pass rush. He won't be able to miss the Ravens' biggest defensive addition in 6-foot-8 Calais Campbell, who can both take Mahomes down or get his hands on one of his passes.

On the other end of the Ravens' revamped defensive line is Derek Wolfe, a man who faced off with Mahomes three times as a member of the Denver Broncos. In their first meeting, Wolfe got a pair of quarterback hits on Mahomes, but he's still looking for his first sack.

Baltimore has more speed in the middle of its defense with the addition of first-round linebacker Patrick Queen. Veteran L.J. Fort, who has gotten off to a very strong start to this season and returned a fumble for a touchdown last week in Houston, was signed about a week after the Ravens-Chiefs game last year.

Safety Chuck Clark is another new starter in the Ravens' defense that Mahomes didn't see much of last year. Clark has gotten to Mahomes, however. Making his second career start in 2018, stepping in temporarily for injured Tony Jefferson, Clark intercepted Mahomes in Arrowhead Stadium.

"We're a different defense in a lot of ways - Marcus, of course ... We have Marlon, he's grown. Jimmy [Smith] is in a great role," Harbaugh said. "We've added defensive linemen, we have young linebackers. So, we've added a lot to our defense. We've added some scheme as well, so it's just different. It's never the same."

The Ravens know they're not going to bottle up Mahomes completely. You don't put a lid on MVPs - of the regular season and Super Bowl.

But as they attempt to beat the Chiefs and their highly-potent attack, which can hit a big play at any time, the Ravens know they must do two things very well.

As Clark stressed Thursday, the Ravens have to communicate well (a blown coverage led to a game-breaking touchdown from Mecole Hardman last year). They also may need to pick off Mahomes, a gunslinger who somehow doesn't make many mistakes. He had just five interceptions last year and hasn't thrown any yet so far this season.

"There are going to be a lot of plays made against you, but then you have to just try to ... When the plays come [and] you're able to make plays on these superstar quarterbacks, you have to make them," Humphrey said.

Like Peters, Humphrey has had Mahomes complete a no-look pass on him too. It was Humphrey who was in coverage when Mahomes did it to the Ravens in 2018, which started the whole no-look craze.

"That started that whole journey, so I've seen that clip so many times on social media. It always seems to come up somewhere," Humphrey said.

"But with Mahomes, as good as he is in the pocket, he's just as good - probably better - outside the pocket, which is the craziest thing about his game. So, preparing for him, it's really tough. You can't really say any team has really just been able to just stop him completely. So, it will be tough. I trust in Wink [Martindale] in whatever gameplan he's going to have, and we'll figure it out and get going."

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