The Buffalo Bills will play in the AFC Championship Game for the first time in 27 years after beating the Baltimore Ravens 17-3 in the division round on Saturday.
The Bills, who beat the Ravens at Bills Stadium at Orchard Park, New York, are just two wins away from their first-ever Super Bowl win.
The game’s turning point came towards the end of the third quarter when Bill defender Taron Johnson passed a pass from Raven’s quarterback Lamar Jackson and returned him for a touchdown and a 16-3 Bills 101 yard lead.
The Bills and Ravens ended the first half in a 3-3 draw. Bill’s wideout Stefon Diggs, who ended with eight catches for 106 yards, scored the only offensive touchdown of the game on a three-yard pass from quarterback Josh Allen with 9:29 in the third quarter:
Jackson left the game at the end of the third quarter and did not return after entering the concussion log.
The 2019 NFL MVP retrieved a botched shotgun snapshot and threw an incomplete pass amid pressure from Bills defenders Trent Murphy and Tremaine Edmunds.
Jackson hit his head in the end zone and stayed down before going into the locker room on his own.
The Ravens season ended for the second year in a row in the divisional round. They finished the regular season 11-5 before beating the Tennessee Titans 20-13 in the wildcard round.
Allen, Diggs, and a powerful and explosive offense received most of the storylines during this magical season of Bills , but the Buffalo Defense is up and running too, with playmakers like Tre’Davious White, Jerry Hughes and Jordan Poyer helping lead a unit that counts in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric (Defense Adjusted Above Average) took a respectable 12th place.
However, it was time for the defense to shine on a night when neither side could go on the offensive. It was up to the Bills D to push Buffalo into the AFC title game, and it did just that by flexing (but not breaking) in appropriate places while playing some crucial games.
Levi Wallace was the first Bill, who played a big defensive game and fired Jackson, with the Ravens standing 1:10 off Buffalo’s 25-yard line in the first quarter:
Levi Wallace got a free ride for the sack 👀 @ LeviWallace39 @BuffaloBills
📺 #BALvsBUF on NBC https://t.co/OONIYS9w6F
That pushed the Ravens out of reach of the field gate on a cool, windy night in West New York. Baltimore returned at 13 yards in two games, but Justin Tucker’s 41-yard field goal wasn’t good.
The Ravens then went three and out on two straight trips, but a fourth trip looked promising, with that Team got 1st and 10th from the Buffalo 35 yard line.
Again Buffalo got through and prevented Baltimore from getting another first down. Matt Milano was the star here with a tackle against Gus Edwards in second place and a pass separation in third place.
The accounts kept twisting but didn’t break. On another run with Ravens, the team somehow switched from a 2nd and 29th on their own 1-yard line to a 1st and 10th on their 46, but that attempt ended up scoring. Hughes made the ravens work harder with this sack to score a nine meter loss:
Jerry Hughes walked past two guys to get the sack 😤 @Iam_jerryhughes @BuffaloBills
📺 #BALvsBUF on NBC https://t.co/mrF9L45021
Finally, the ravens crept into the red zone and seriously threatened a touchdown. Jackson expertly navigated Baltimore and came within the 10-yard line.
At this point, it was Murphy’s law for the ravens and euphoria for the bills. Johnson took the pass off and found a crease on the right side of a crowd of players. He cut his way through the field, got a crucial downfield block from Micah Hyde to Jackson, and sprinted the rest of the way for a huge pick-six: There were more of them in the fourth quarter, even when Tyler Huntley Jackson replaced. The ravens had their chances, but the bills held on to their own end. Baltimore had a first hit from the Buffalo 8-yard line in the final minutes, 14 points back, but the Ravens were empty and sealed the Bills’ win. The Bills have the two best defenses for two straight weeks beaten by the AFC while playing offensively in two of their worst games. Team sport. What an achievement by the Bills defense. What a moment for this franchise.
The #Bill defense is playing their best game of the season. And I’m not sure it’s going to be tight at all. #BALvsBUF
A week ago, Josh Allen brought his team to a playoff win.
Tonight the #Bill defense carried Allen
Sean McDermott would call it free soccer
The result? The #Bills are in the AFC Championship game
Buffalo is now in the AFC Championship game for the first time since January 1994, when the Bills scored their fourth consecutive AFC Championship win.
The Bills were playing then against the Kansas City Chiefs to make the Super Bowl, and it’s possible that will happen now if the Chiefs beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
We’ll soon find out if the stars are up for the bills align, but regardless of what happens, West New York is home to an NFL powerhouse that can be long-term and sustainable success.
The Ravens had a chance to take the lead, or at least keep up with the bills, but Baltimore couldn’t take advantage of all of them.
Tucker, who missed only one field goal under 50 meters all year round, was absent on two Saturdays. Yes, the wind certainly played a role in Orchard Park, but it was still breathtaking to watch the game’s greatest kicker of all time miss two field goals that are normally automatic for him.
Also, the ravens fought almost every one Times when they passed midfield. They didn’t have too many problems moving the ball overall, even beating the bills 340-220. The problem arose when the ravens got within range of the field target.
At that point, the Front 7 of the Bills proved overwhelming and Jackson was unable to connect to his receivers. Discarded passes didn’t help, and neither did bad snapshots of Patrick Mekari, who had a tough night against the bills.
Still, the Ravens weren’t there in the fourth quarter, despite Jackson being forced to leave the game 14 points behind . Huntley walked in impressing with his legs and arm, and the Ravens had a chance to pull within seven of the quarterback launching a pass to a wide-open Marquise Brown.
The runabout would have come up with nothing but green Sprint into the end zone in front of you, but the Huntley pass was a little too long.
The Ravens had one more chance to draw within a score and hit the Bills’ 8-yard line before the two-minute warning . A dropped J.K. Dobbins pass and a barely missed connection from Huntley to Andrews sealed the fate of the Ravens.
In the end, the Ravens were their own worst enemies. Thanks to the Bills and their excellent defense for the win, but Baltimore had their shots all night.
The bills will either go against the Kansas City Chiefs or the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday at 6:40 p.m. align. ET.
Kansas City will host Cleveland in the AFC Divisional Round on Sunday at 3:05 pm. ET.
After Bill defeats Ravens, @ SOBO55 believes the QBs are going in two different directions ➡️