The Baltimore Ravens leaned on Lamar Jackson and their running game to pull away from the Houston Texans in the second half of the AFC Divisional Round matchup. Won 34-10.
The Ravens will face the winner of Sunday's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game on January 28th.
The Ravens rushed for 229 yards with 134 of those coming in the second half. Jackson tallied 100 of Baltimore's rushing yards and 152 passing and two scores with his feet in addition to throwing for two scores.
Baltimore and Houston were tied 10-10 at the half, but after opening the third quarter with a 37-yard kick return by receiver Devin DuVernay, Jackson led the Ravens on a six-play, 55-yard drive. A 15-yard run.
Baltimore scored on its next three possessions, with Jackson finding tight end Isaiah Likely with a 15-yard touchdown pass, rushing 8 yards for a TD, and then a 43-yard Justin Tucker field goal to seal the victory.
While Jackson and the Ravens found success on the field, Baltimore's defense made sure Houston's offense couldn't do the same. The Ravens limited the Texans to 38 yards rushing and 2.7 per carry.
Without a consistent rushing attack and an offense that was penalized eight times, Texans rookie QB CJ Stroud couldn't find the same success he enjoyed in the wild-card round.
Stroud finished 19-of-33 for 175 yards and Houston's offense failed to score a touchdown. The Texans' only touchdown came in the second quarter on a 67-yard punt return from receiver Steven Sims.
The changes made in the second half made a big difference for the Ravens
The Ravens had no answer to the Texans' blitzes in the first half. Jackson was sacked three times and he wasn't comfortable. However, offensive coordinator Todd Mongan made some changes. The Ravens came out in the second half and passed more aggressively on early downs.
Jackson gets the ball out quickly. Quick game had more options. The offensive line was very good on defense. On their first three drives of the second half, the Ravens scored three touchdowns on six-, 12- and 11-play drives. — Jeff Zrebiec, Ravens beat writer
Todd Mangan brings a lot of energy and fun timing to the Ravens' offense
The Ravens showed their poise
There was plenty of anxiety in the capacity crowd at halftime when the Ravens, a 9 1/2-point favorite, were tied with the Texans at halftime. Ravens fans have seen this film before. It felt like 2019 when the Ravens entered their divisional matchup against the Tennessee Titans with a bye and a first down and were promptly defeated by the Titans 28-12. The Ravens insisted they learn from that experience, and they showed it on Saturday. The Ravens didn't panic. They made changes at halftime and they ran the Texans off the field in the second half. — Roe deer
What's wrong with Houston
For a while, late in the second quarter, it felt like the Texans had a chance: Sims' 67-yard punt return not only tied the game, but Stroud got hot. Soon. The M&T Bank Stadium crowd, raucous at the start, quieted down, and the great underdog script unfolded.
But the missed opportunities kept piling up. Kaimi Fairbairn's missed 47-yard field goal would have given the Texans a 13-10 halftime lead. Punishments. So, many punishments. (At the end of the game, a total of 11, including four false starts). The Ravens' offense struggled to find answers to Houston's blitzes and was brutal throughout the second half. Jackson was at his best, and the Texans had no answer.
And with that, the AFC's top seed was eliminated.
The Texans (11-8) failed to produce an offensive touchdown for the first time since Week 1 — which also included a loss at Baltimore. Stroud was dazzled by the Ravens' pass rush, rarely seeing a clean pocket or receiver with much separation in the back end. He finished with just 175 passing yards, one of the most productive seasons from a rookie quarterback in league history. — Zak Keefer, senior NFL writer
(Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)