Spags in his bag: Steve Spagnuolo made Todd Monken wish he'd stayed in Athens in Chiefs' dominant win

Steve Spagnuolo put on a clinic defensively in the Kansas City Chiefs' AFC Championship victory.

Steve Spagnuolo, Kansas City Chiefs
Steve Spagnuolo, Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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Fact: Leaving Athens, Georgia before you actually have to is a bad idea. It is the greatest college town in America, blessed to have one of the finest college football teams in the land. Todd Monken could have had a statue built in his name, image, likeness somewhere near Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall of Lumpkin, but the NFL beckoned. Unfortunately, Lamar Jackson looked completely shook out there.

It may have only been a one-score game in the AFC Championship, but the Kansas City Chiefs dominated the Baltimore Ravens throughout. Self-inflicted mistakes capsized the No. 1 seed's shot at getting to the Super Bowl. For Kansas City, the Chiefs are chasing their chance at history in two weeks. This team is so incredibly talented, but it are not beating Baltimore without Steve Spagnuolo.

There is no other way to say it other than Spags was in his bag, dawg. Monken used to be a Dawg, but Spags is a dawg now, bruh. I have not seen a defensive coordinator eat another team's lunch in a playoff game quite like this since Todd Bowles' Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense wrecked the same Chiefs in Super Bowl 55 down in Tampa during COVID. We are talking about a complete masterclass.

It was so dominant that you don't even need to know X's and O's to realize what Spagnuolo just did.

Steve Spagnuolo put on a clinic defensively in Chiefs AFC title bout win

While I will agree that Baltimore's mental lapses largely contributed to their latest playoff defeat, Spagnuolo had his players in position to make great plays defensively. A pair of forced fumbles and a timely pick guided the Chiefs to a rare postseason win away from Arrowhead. But I think it goes much more beyond just Baltimore's self-destructive nature in the red zone. Spagnuolo played this perfectly.

Despite it being a home game and the biggest game in Baltimore since 1971, Kansas City was cool, calm and collected throughout the ball game. Travis Kelce made a ton of big plays as an elite pass-catching tight end. Patrick Mahomes played a fine game at quarterback, but he did not make mistakes to jeopardize his team's chances of winning. He wisely leaned on the Kansas City defense.

Jackson was pressing pretty much the entire time. He would make plays based on his generational athleticism, but the game felt too fast for him. The moment proved to be too big for some of his favorite targets such at wide receiver Zay Flowers and tight end Isaiah Likely. Again, big-game experience in the NFL postseason gave Spagnuolo a huge leg up on a newcomer like Monken.

Ultimately, these are the type of moments Spagnuolo lives for. He bombed as an NFL head coach in St. Louis, but has solidified himself as an elite coordinator with games like his. He helped the New York Giants win a Super Bowl nearly two decades ago. Not to say it has come full circle for him, but shutting down the presumptive NFL MVP at his place in the AFC Championship game is outstanding.

Spagnuolo set up guys like Deon Bush, George Karlaftis and Justin Reid to be in position to succeed.

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