Ravens Advance Past Texans, Will Play in AFC Championship

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs for a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football AFC divisional playoff game, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Baltimore Ravens took on the Houston Texans on Saturday in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. Houston was riding high heading into Saturday after knocking off Joe Flacco and the Cleveland Browns just one week prior, as the Ravens watched on their bye week. The Ravens and Texans are no strangers to each other as they faced off in week one, with the Ravens coming away victorious by a final of 25-9.

Although the Ravens finished the regular season with the best record in the NFL and secured the number one seed in the AFC playoffs, questions still surrounded Lamar Jackson and if he could win in the playoffs, and could this Ravens team avenge what took place in 2019 in a near identical situation.

Early on in the game things did not look promising as the Ravens struggled to find their footing offensively. The Ravens had nearly three weeks off from any meaningful games, and it looked early on that rust may be a factor. The Ravens were only able to muster three points in the games opening quarter. It wouldn’t be until six minutes into the second quarter that the Ravens would score their firs touchdown on a Nelson Agholor three-yard reception to take a 10-3 lead.

While the Ravens offense struggled the Ravens defense, much like they have all year, was playing lights out making up for the Ravens poor offensive first half. It looked as though the Ravens would be taking a 10-3 lead into the half, but Texans punt returner Steven Sims had other ideas. Sims fielded a Jordan Stout punt with just over four minutes to play in the first half and would go 67-yards for the touchdown to tie the game at 10 going into the half.

Lamar Jackson had a determined look in his eye heading into the locker room, and that look would translate for Jackson and the Ravens in the second half as they looked like a much more inspired team.

After a 57-yard kick return by Devin Duvernay to start the half, Jackson and the Ravens wasted little time finding the end zone. In just six plays Jackson capped off a 55-yard drive with a 15-yard rush up the middle to give the Ravens a 17-10 lead. The Ravens were not done making a statement however.

As the Ravens defense continued to force punts, the Ravens just continued to score as Jackson would find his tight end Isaiah Likely for a 15-yard catch, and Jackson would finish off his four touchdown performance with an eight-yard run around the outside following his block by left tackle Ronnie Stanley into the end zone.

The Texans would not score for the remainder of the game, and a Justin Tucker 43-yard field goal just after the two-minute warning would cap off the Ravens 34-10 victory and advance them to the AFC championship next Sunday.

Despite the close first half the Ravens team in the second half looked like the team that was the best team in the NFL this season. The Ravens held rookie offensive player of the year candidate C.J. Stroud to just 175 yards passing while also holding the Texans to just 38 total yards rushing. The Ravens did not allow the Texans offense to run a single play inside their 25-yard line, and did not give up a defensive touchdown in two games against the Texans this season.

The Texans had no answer for quarterback Lamar Jackson in the second half as he completely took over the game in the second half showing why he will be this years league MVP. Jackson finished Saturday 16-for-22 for 152 yards passing and 100-yards rushing. Jackson also continued to put his name in the record books as he became the first player in NFL history to pass for two touchdowns, rush for two touchdowns, rush for 100-yards, and also have a 100+ passer rating all in the same game. Running back Justice Hill added 60 yards on the ground himself, and some tough running by Gus Edwards also helped keep some drives moving.

The Baltimore Ravens now get set to take on the Kansas City Chiefs who are making their sixth straight appearance in the AFC championship. Next Sunday will be a historic day for the Ravens as they not only will be fighting for their first Super Bowl appearance since 2012. But it will be the first AFC championship game played at home in Ravens franchise history, and the first AFC championship game played in Baltimore since 1970 when Johnny Unitas led the Baltimore Colts past a John Madden coached Oakland Raiders team.

Games Notes:

Quarterback Lamar Jackson became the first quarterback with three 100-yard rushing games in the playoffs.

Linebacker Roquan Smith led all Ravens with seven tackles.

Wide receiver Zay Flowers led all Ravens receivers with 41 receiving yards.

The Ravens outgained the Texans 352-213.

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh recorded his 20th career playoff victory.

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