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Titans beat Ravens to advance to AFC Championship


Divisional Round - Tennessee Titans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans are going to the AFC Championship game after a dominant performance in Baltimore against the league’s hottest team. From start to finish, the Titans were the more physical team — a good recipe for this time of year.

Another fast start for the Titans

For Tennessee, you couldn’t ask for a better start. A tipped pass off the hands of Mark Andrews fell into the arms of Kevin Byard, who returned it 31 yards to kill an impressive opening drive for the Ravens.

It was a second chance for the Titans, who started the game with a punt. Arthur Smith called upon No. 22 from there, getting Derrick Henry some early work. Moderate gains kept the chains moving as Tennessee’s offensive line started moving the Baltimore front.

Henry got them down to the redzone and Jonnu Smith finished the job. Ryan Tannehill floated one to the corner of the endzone and Smith pulled down a circus catch, staying in bounds by a cheek.

It was an early 7-0 lead for the Titans.

Another massive moment unfolded on the next drive. Baltimore opted to go for it on their own 45 yard line on 4th and one. The rush attempt from Jackson came up just short, handing the Titans a golden opportunity to take control of this game.

That’s exactly what they did. Tannehill worked off play action, looking for Kalif Raymond deep. Raymond hauled it in, giving Tennessee a 14-0 lead.

Lamar finds points, but not the endzone

How would Lamar Jackson respond in an unfamiliar situation? It took him a couple of drives, but we eventually saw him lead a scoring effort midway through the second quarter. Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews got free for big plays, putting Baltimore in striking distance.

But the drive stalled as Logan Ryan stuffed Jackson on a rush attempt, then Lamar threw behind Willie Snead on 3rd down. Justin Tucker got the Ravens on the board though, cutting the lead to 14-3.

The Titans couldn’t do anything with a 27 yard run from Henry, stalling out just before the two minute warning.

Jackson jolted the offense back to life on 3rd and long deep in Baltimore territory, finding Seth Roberts for a huge gain out to midfield. Tennessee played conservative defense, letting Lamar inch closer to field goal range and the clock moved closer to halftime.

With 18 seconds to go, Jackson found Marquise Brown — who made a spectacular one-handed catch at the five. But Harold Landry wrecked the next play, getting pressure and forcing a throw away with three seconds to go. Tucker hit the field goal from there, bringing us to a 14-6 game at the break.

Titans throw another punch — and another

Baltimore got the ball to start the second half, but their frustrations continued.

A scramble turned into a gain of 30 for Jackson, flipping the field and putting the Ravens back in scoring range. They entered the redzone and were immediately faced with another 4th and 1 — and they were stuffed once again. Jackson went left, then reverse right on a sneak attempt, but was dropped before the sticks.

Henry then delivered a 66 yard run down to the five. The play took all the air out of the stadium once again, as suddenly the Ravens were right back on the ropes. Henry finished the job himself — through the air — finding Corey Davis on a jump pass for six.

Jurrell Casey came up with a sack fumble on the first play of the next drive, which the Titans recovered.

Derrick Henry got the Titans to the goal line, then Ryan Tannehill punched it in on speed option. Suddenly, it was a 28-6 lead for the Titans, who seemingly had broken the Ravens.

Lamar Jackson was tasked with coming up with something — anything, really. Just when it looked like he was going to nickel and dime the Titans for a score, he made another mistake. This time it was Kenny Vaccaro undercutting an out route, snagging the interception on the sideline.

The Titans were unable to add to their already big lead, but they did take the game into the fourth quarter.

Jackson finally did find the endzone on the next drive. It took us all the way down to 11 minutes to play, but Jackson found Hayden Hurst for the score. Baltimore didn’t convert the two point conversion, keeping us at a 28-12 game.

Derrick Henry and the Titans ran more clock on the next drive, just looking to get out of town. After moving the sticks twice, Kern booted one deep with 6:25 to play.

Jackson, down 16 points, went back to work with his last chance. Snead hauled one in for 27, the Jackson ran himself for another chunk. But the drive stalled out in the redzone. Faced with a 4th and 5, Jackson fired incomplete, and that would do it.

Derrick Henry finished with 30 carries for 195 yards. The Titans held Lamar Jackson to just 12 points.

FINAL SCORE: Tennessee 28, Baltimore 12

Tennessee will now advance to Championship Sunday, waiting to head to Kansas City or Houston.