Image Credit: © Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
In a matchup pitting the top rushing team in the NFL in the Baltimore Ravens against a Buffalo Bills team who led the 4th-best passing attack in the league, this Divisional Round game figured to feature a lot of offense.
Early in the night, the special teams units drew the most attention. Had we known special teams would be key coming in, most would expect that to mean the Ravens would be the victor. Not this time.
The Ravens used a series of runs and short passes to march down the field into Buffalo territory meticulously on the game's opening drive. Until Levi Wallace came in like a missile, sacking Lamar Jackson for an 11-yard loss to throw off their tempo.
Once Baltimore got behind the chains, their momentum was cooked. Their lack of a passing game combined with Buffalo’s lockdown secondary forces them to play to their weaknesses, which is exactly where Buffalo wanted them.
The Bills should have had their first touchdown once they reached the Baltimore 10-yard line. Josh Allen targeted Gabriel Davis over the middle of the field, only to have it go through his hands. On the next play, Tyler Bass split the uprights with a 28-yard field goal for its first score.
With Zack Moss missing time with his ankle injury, Buffalo dialed up 15 consecutive passing plays before Allen was forced to scramble for four yards on 3rd-and-8. Facing the wind, Bass had to attempt a 43-yard field goal that missed wide right.
On Baltimore’s next drive, a 31-yard reception by J.K. Dobbins put the visiting team in kicking range yet again. The Ravens had Tucker lined up to tie it with a 46-yard field goal, only to have this one doink off the right upright this time. Tucker, the NFL’s most accurate kicker of all-time coming into the game, missed two kicks inside 40 yards for the first time ever.
Tucker would redeem himself in some ways by hitting a chip shot 34-yard kick to somehow tie the game at 3-3 heading into the second half. The first half featured three punts from each team and three missed field goals in a sloppy, windy game at Bills Stadium. Buffalo attempted just three running plays, one of which was the Allen kneel to end the second quarter.
Second Half Run
Starting the half with the ball, Buffalo finally started dialing up some running plays, and it worked to perfection.
The Bills ran it down the Ravens’ throats, with Devin Singletary rumbling for 20 yards on the drive. Brian Daboll’s play-calling was excellent coming out of the break, leading to an 11 play, 66-yard drive capping it off with a nicely-executed short screen to Stefon Diggs for the first touchdown of the game.
Baltimore would then use 15 plays to go 66 yards before Lamar Jackson attempted to find Mark Andrews across the middle for the score, but Taron Johnson had different ideas. Leaping in front of the Ravens’ tight end, Johnson snatched the ball and decided to leave the end zone. Once he got going, no one could catch him; Johnson hauled it 101 yards for the touchdown.
As Baltimore got the ball back, Jackson had to leave the game and be checked for concussion symptoms due to a clean hit by Bills defenders. WIth Jackson ruled out for the rest of the game, undrafted rookie quarterback Tyler Huntley took over for the Ravens. Down, 17-3, this one was essentially over.
As Baltimore’s scoring attempts proved futile, Buffalo would go on to wind out the clock to end the game. The Bills are headed to the AFC Championship Round for the first time since 1993.
Bills Game Balls
- Taron Johnson
His 101-yard pick-six proved to be the pivotal moment of the Divisional Round. It’s tied for the longest INT-return during the playoffs of all-time. Johnson also had six tackles, a TFL, and a pass deflection to get the win.
- Jerry Hughes
Chasing down one of the fastest players in the NFL, Hughes was able to sack Lamar Jackson twice. Bills defenders sacked the Ravens QBs four times on the night. Rocking the ‘C’ on his jersey, Hughes finished with three tackles in the game.
- Stefon Diggs
What seems routine for Diggs at this point is a career game for many others. With eight receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown, Diggs joined James Lofton as the only Bills receivers to have back-to-back 100-yard games in the playoffs. He also became the first Bills player to score a touchdown in back-to-back playoff games since Thurman Thomas did it in 1996.
Looking Ahead at the Buffalo Bills Schedule
With the Bills dominating the Ravens 17-3, they move on to face the winner of Sunday’s Cleveland-Kansas City game.
If Kansas City wins, Buffalo has to travel for the first time in the 2021 playoffs. However, if Cleveland wins, Buffalo gets to prepare for another game in front of the Bills Mafia at Bills Stadium. Obviously, we need to root for a Browns victory to bring the AFC Championship Game back home to Buffalo.
When: Sunday, January 24th, 6:40 EST
Who: Buffalo Vs. ?
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