Lamar Jackson leads the Ravens over the Texans to the AFC Championship Game.

Lamar Jackson leads the Ravens over the Texans to the AFC Championship Game.

 With a 34-10 victory against the Houston Texans on Saturday night in the divisional round, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson addressed some concerns about his postseason abilities, but he also had a lot of assistance.

After having a bye week, the Ravens’ formidable defense showed no signs of weakness as they shut out spectacular rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud to progress to the AFC Championship Game against the victor of Sunday’s Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs game.

Though Jackson was just 1-3 in the playoffs until Saturday, he had achieved almost everything in the regular season and was probably on his way to winning his second MVP trophy. With two more wins this year, he hopes to quiet all skeptics.

Ravens of Baltimore

An AFC Championship Game on their own ground is something that the Ravens have never enjoyed in their 28-year history thanks to Jackson.

Jackson, who hurt the Texans as much with his legs as his arm, finished with four touchdowns and 100 yards running to help the Ravens win their first divisional round game since their 2012 Super Bowl run.

With his third playoff 100-yard rushing game, Jackson surpassed Colin Kaepernick to hold the record for the most such performances by a quarterback in NFL history. In addition, Jackson is the first player since Colin Kaepernick in 2012 to achieve 100 yards of running and two touchdown passes in an NFL playoff game.

Jackson disproved the myth that, having just one postseason triumph in his first five seasons, he was incapable of winning in the playoffs.

The AFC Championship Game will be held in Baltimore for the first time in 53 years, since the 1970 season when the Baltimore Colts hosted it. It’s the longest time between conference championship game hosting dates for a city.

Stroud was constantly irritated by the Ravens defense. In the playoffs, Baltimore prevented Stroud and Houston’s offense from reaching the end zone, continuing a pattern that began in the season opener against the Texans. John Harbaugh, the coach of the Ravens, is now 18-2 versus rookie quarterbacks in Baltimore.

Startling statistic: Jackson’s only touchdown throw of the playoffs until the fourth quarter came when he hit Nelson Agholor in the end zone in the second quarter. Jackson has only completed three touchdown passes in five postseason games before to Saturday, and all of them came in the fourth quarter. Jackson’s previous two playoff games did not include a touchdown throw. Moreover, Agholor’s touchdown grab in the playoffs came at this time; before to this, he was among the six active players who had at least 20 postseason catches without a touchdown catch.

A promising pattern emerged as Jackson outran Houston many times with his legs, recording his fourth career postseason game with 50 or more running yards. This places him a tie for the second-most by a quarterback since 1950 with Steve Young, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick. With 100 running yards, Jackson has the most yards of any quarterback this season allowed by the Texans. Jackson made Ravens playoff history by becoming the first player to score a touchdown both throwing and running in the same game with a 15-yard scoring run.

Jackson’s conversion of a brave fourth-and-1 call near midfield was a pivotal play. In the third quarter, with the Ravens up 17–10, Baltimore punted the ball to Jackson, who took it wide left behind offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and gained 14 yards. It preserved a 12-play, 93-yard drive that culminated in Jackson throwing Isaiah Likely a 15-yard touchdown pass.

Unsettling trend: Baltimore had allowed a return for a score in three consecutive postseason games before Steven Sims’ 67-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. at the red zone of the 2020 divisional playoff game at Buffalo, Jackson completed a pick-six. In the previous season, Sam Hubbard recovered Tyler Huntley’s fumble close to the goal line 98 yards for a score during a wild-card game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The winner of Sunday’s game between the Chiefs and Bills will play in the AFC Championship Game.

The Houston Texans

The Texans’ unexpected season is over, having advanced to the divisional round for the first time since 2019.

Though they were unable to win two, Coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie quarterback Stroud were the third rookie coach-rookie quarterback combination to win a postseason game since 1950. The offensive suffered in a manner not seen since Houston’s 30–6 loss to the New York Jets in Week 14.

The Texans’ poor running and blocking performance up front caused Stroud to be pressed on 45.7% of his 35 dropbacks, which is tied for his second-highest pressure rate of the season.

In the first half, the defense was able to make up for its shortcomings, but in the second half, it crumbled and let up 21 points.

In two words, characterize Texans: I mean no disrespect. The Ravens defense was too strong for the offense to handle. The Texans ended with 38 rushing yards (averaging 2.7 per carry) and 213 total yards on Saturday, but their regular season average of 343 yards per game (twelfth) was exceeded. They also failed to score an offensive touchdown against the Ravens, exactly as they did in the season opener.

The biggest weakness in the game plan was that the Texans could never find a reliable way to stop Jackson from scrambling. Despite their intense awareness of him, they were unable to stop him, giving up 48 scramble yards. The Texans allowed the fewest amount of scramble yards in the regular season (217), and their greatest game-long total was 43 against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11.

Crucial play in the first half: Sims’ punt return gave the Texans hope. With 4:17 left in the first half, it made the score 10–10, but everything went apart in the second. The Texans scored their third non-offensive touchdown in the playoffs with the touchdown, which is the most by any club since the Green Bay Packers scored three in 2010.

Stunning statistic: The Texans’ 11 accepted penalties against them surpassed the previous high of eight, setting a club record. They were penalized for holding on special teams, had three false starts, an intentional grounding, and a delay of game in the first quarter. They committed six penalties in the first quarter, which was a season high for them.

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