The Buffalo Bills are in the AFC Championship game, following tonight’s win over the Baltimore Ravens, 17-3. Since 1994 and Jim Kelly, this is the first time the Bills went this deep in the playoffs.
And to surprise everyone, the reason for this success wasn’t Buffalo’s superb offense but a tough defense that stiffed the Ravens on a cold and windy night. The best rushing offense and the most lethal rushing quarterback in the last decade were held to just 150 yards on the ground on 32 carries.
“We came here with a vision, and seeing it move forward in the right direction feels good,” said the hosts’ head coach Sean McDermott.
The defining moments of the match happened in the third period, once Bills pulled away from the rivals with two touchdowns. The latter of them was a historic one, with Taron Johnson bringing back the intercepted pass for 101 yards, tying the NFL’s longest pick-six in the playoff history.
What is even more important, this is the play that broke Baltimore. In those moments, the Ravens were on the verge of hitting back at the Bills, who previously scored a touchdown. Not only did Johnson prevented that from happening, but gave his team an additional boost of morale and increased the difference on the scoreboard.
After that, everything went downhill for the Ravens, who lost Jackson two plays later, with him suffering a nasty hit. The 2019 MVP had to leave the game, which was pretty much the end of the game for the guests from Maryland. Tyler Huntley replaced Baltimore’s No.8, but without any success. Hutley was 6-of-13 for 60 yards, but none of his three drives brought points. He also ran for 32 yards.
Up until that moment, LJ had 162 passing yards with one interception, suffering three sacks, and rushing 34 yards on nine carries.
Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins both had 42 rushing yards on 10 snaps, while Marquise Brown caught four passes for 87 yards. Dobbins had three catches for 51 yards.
John Harbaugh wasn’t disappointed following the match, saying that his team gave everything and no remarks on their performance.
“I’m proud of the guys. I feel like what we’ve been through as a football team, the road we traveled this year, the challenges that we faced, all well-documented, I feel like our guys handled them with toughness and with grace.”
— The Tailgate Talk (@TheTailgateTlk) January 17, 2021
Josh Allen didn’t have his usual passing stats, recording just 206 yards on 23 completions from 37 throws. However, he did continue fantastic cooperation with Stefon Diggs, who caught one TD, racking up 106 receiving yards on 8 receptions.
John Brown had 62 yards in the same number of catches. The Bills had just 32 rushing yards, avoiding to run the football even though the weather in Buffalo wasn’t suitable for the passing game.
Buffalo awaits the winner of the other AFC Divisional round match between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns. The game takes place at the Arrowhead Stadium, as the Cheifs finished first in the NFL during the regular part of the season. They are big favorites to win, but the way the Browns have been playing lately, Patrick Mahomes and his crew have to give their best in order to advance to the next round.
Per many, Mahomes and Allen are the two new leaders who will shape the league in the upcoming years. The only one QB with such talent and potential is Jackson.
LJ finally won his first playoff match, and if injuries miss the Ravens next year, Harbaugh’s team will once again be among the top candidates for winning the title.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.