Lamar Jackson, Ravens escape Texans in second half to advance to AFC Championship

The Baltimore Ravens relied on Lamar Jackson and their run game to pull away from the Houston Texans in the second half of an AFC Divisional Round game. To win 34-10.

The Ravens will face the winner of Sunday's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game on January 28.

The Ravens rushed for 229 yards with 134 coming in the second half. Jackson accounted for 100 yards for Baltimore and added two scores with his feet over the throw for 152 passes and two scores.

Baltimore and Houston were tied 10-10 at halftime, but after opening the third quarter with a 37-yard strike from receiver Devin DuVernay, Jackson led the Ravens on a six-play, 55-yard drive that ended with a score. Distance 15 yards.

Baltimore scored on its next three possessions, with Jackson finding tight end Isaiah Most likely with a 15-yard touchdown pass, rushing 8 yards for a TD and then a 43-yard Justin Tucker field goal to seal the victory.

While Jackson and the Ravens had success on the ground, Baltimore's defense made sure Houston's offense couldn't do the same. The Ravens limited the Texans to 38 rushing yards and 2.7 per carry.

Without a consistent rushing attack and an offense that was penalized eight times, Texans rookie QB CJ Stroud was unable to have the same success he enjoyed in the wild card round.

Stroud finished 19 of 33 for 175 yards, and Houston's offense was unable to score a touchdown. The Texans' only touchdown came on a 67-yard run from receiver Steven Sims in the second quarter.

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The second half adjustments made a big difference for the Ravens

The Ravens had no answers for the Texans' blitz in the first half. Jackson was sacked three times and never looked comfortable. However, offensive coordinator Todd Monken made some adjustments. The Ravens came out in the second half and were more aggressive with their passing early.

Jackson got the ball out quickly. There were more options in the fast game. The offensive line was much better at protecting. On the first three drives of the second half, the Ravens scored three touchdowns on six, 12 and 11 drives. — Jeff Zrebek, Ravens beat writer

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The Crows showed their poise

There was plenty of nervousness among the crowd in the first half, when the Ravens, a 9 1/2-point favorite, tied the Texans at halftime. Ravens fans have seen this movie before. It felt like 2019 all over again when the Ravens entered divisional play against the Tennessee Titans coming off a bye and with the No. 1 seed and were promptly beaten 28-12 by the Titans. The Crows insisted they had learned from that experience, and Saturday showed they had. The crows did not panic. They made adjustments in the first half and ran the Texans off the field in the second half. — Zrebek

What went wrong in Houston

For a brief moment, late in the second quarter, it looked as if the Texans had their chance: Not only had Simms' 67-yard punt return tied the game, but Stroud was hot. quickly. The initially raucous M&T Bank Stadium crowd quieted down, and the perfect underdog scenario began to unfold.

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But the missed opportunities kept piling up. A missed 47-yard field goal from Kaimi Fairbairn would have given the Texans a 13-10 lead at halftime. Penalties. So the penalties are many. (By the end of the game, 11 total, including four false starts). And a Ravens offense that, after struggling to find answers to Houston's blitz early, was extremely effective throughout the second half. Jackson was at his best, and the Texans had no answer.

With it, the top seed in the AFC withdrew.

The Texans (11-8) failed to score an offensive touchdown for the first time since Week 1 — also a loss in Baltimore. Stroud was stymied by the Ravens' pass rush, rarely seeing a clean pocket or a receiver with significant separation on the back end. He finished with just 175 yards rushing, ending one of the most prolific seasons from a rookie quarterback in league history. — Zach Keefer, NFL senior writer

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(Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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