Sunday's NFL conference title games were two very different sorts of games.
Chiefs-Ravens was a slow burn, as Kansas City got out to an early lead and held onto it throughout. Baltimore got closer and closer to competing as the game went along, but mistakes at the wrong time shut down its chances. One year after he was the leading receiver for the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, Marquez Valdes-Scantling hauled in a 32-yard bomb on third-and-9 to break the Ravens and send the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl.
Lions-49ers was a slugfest, and could also be accurately described as a rope-a-dope. Detroit dominated early and jumped out to a 17-point lead, only for San Francisco to claw its way back in the second half. In a four-minute window, the 49ers pounced. They stopped the Lions on fourth down, scored a touchdown, forced a fumble and scored again to tie the game. While Detroit threatened later in the game, another failed fourth-down try put San Francisco in the driver's seat, sealing a Super Bowl LIV rematch against the Chiefs.
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There's a set of questions emanating from each game that stand out as the most pressing topics of conversation Monday morning. The Ravens came into their game with the to-be-crowned MVP under center in Lamar Jackson and a dominant offense, but they were held to just 10 points. And after being lauded for his aggressiveness on fourth down all season, a pair of fourth-down failures by coach Dan Campbell and the Lions seemed to steer the game toward the 49ers.
Are those arguments factual or fictional? What happened to help swing these games? Let's take a closer look at these stories and how they hold up under scrutiny, starting with the afternoon game and another playoff masterpiece from Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo:
How the Chiefs shut down the Ravens
The Chiefs took away so many of the things the Ravens do well on offense and limited them to attempt things that they don't do as effectively. And then, when Baltimore did threaten, Kansas City came up with the game's two biggest plays to take points off the board. This wasn't a dominant performance by Andy Reid's team, which was outgained by the Ravens, but it was a thoughtful one.
What did the Chiefs keep the Ravens from doing? And what did the Ravens do to beat themselves?