clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Baltimore will host its first AFC title game in 53 years

The Indianapolis Colts went 3-1 in the four matchups against teams who advanced to the divisional round

NFL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas (19) in action against Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Carleton Oats (85) during the 1970 AFC Championship game at Memorial Stadium. The Colts defeated the Raiders 27-17. 
Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Most Valuable Player favorite Lamar Jackson totaled four touchdowns to lead the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens to Saturday’s 34-10 blowout win over the Houston Texans in the AFC divisional round.

Jackson needed just 11 carries to rush for a game-high 100 rushing yards, pick up seven first downs and score two rushing touchdowns. Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew was the only other player this season to rush for two touchdowns and throw two touchdowns in the same game.

Baltimore will host the AFC Championship for the first time since 1971, when the Colts beat the Oakland Raiders 27-17 at Memorial Stadium. The Colts reached their second Super Bowl in a three-year span and ultimately rallied back to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V.

The Indianapolis Colts went 3-1 in the four matchups against teams who advanced to the divisional round, with the sole loss in Week 18 against the Texans. In rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson’s third career start, the Colts handed the Ravens their only non-divisional loss this season behind kicker Matt Gay’s heroics in the Week 3 overtime thriller.

Baltimore and Houston are the two youngest franchises in the league. The Texans are 0-5 in the divisional round and it’s been 44 years since the Houston Oilers played in the AFC championship game.

The Ravens defense stifled the Texans electric offense for the second time this season, allowing just one 50-yard field goal in the first quarter. In two meetings, Houston’s offense never reached the end zone and was limited to four made field goals. Ravens edge rusher and former Texan, Jadeveon Clowney, stuffed a run on the first play from scrimmage to send an early message. Linebacker Roquan Smith led the Ravens with seven tackles, including 2.0 tackles for loss.

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker drilled a 53-yard field goal, the longest of his career in the playoffs, to take a 3-0 lead. Texans’ kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn responded with a 50-yarder to tie the game 3-3 in the final minute of the first quarter.

Jackson showcased his elusiveness on the final play of the first quarter, dashing near midfield for a 23-yard gain. After Jackson found Flowers near the sideline to drive inside Texans territory, the Ravens pounded the ground to move the sticks with three consecutive carries for running back Gus Edwards. The Ravens took a 10-3 lead once Jackson faked the handoff to Edwards and found receiver Nelson Agholor open in the end zone for his first playoff touchdown.

Steven Sims, a Houston-native who just signed to the active roster on Tuesday, returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown to tie the game 10-10 with 4:17 left in the first half. Sims cut from the left hash to the right hash, then raced for a house call to shift the momentum and become the first player in Texans franchise history to score a punt return touchdown in the playoffs.

The Ravens outscored the Texans 24-0 in the second half, ignited once Jackson engineered a six-play scoring drive to start the second half. Jackson took a designed keeper across the goal line for a 15-yard touchdown to give the Ravens a 17-10 lead.

After another defensive stop, Jackson followed up and orchestrated a 12-play scoring drive. Facing fourth-and-1 at midfield late in the third quarter, Jackson faked the handoff and bounced left for a 15-yard gain to convert the first down. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Jackson lofted a 15-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Isaiah Likely to extend the lead to 24-10.

Baltimore will host the winner of the playoff trilogy between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.