Jackson, Ravens Get Revenge vs. Titans
The continuation of Super Wild Card Weekend on Sunday lived up to the billing.
The Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans came into the game as the league's No. 1 rushing team and the team with the league's top rusher, respectively, but only one AFC powerhouse managed to establish itself on the ground.
That 10-0 deficit previously served as a bugaboo for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, as they hadn't been able to come back from a 10-point deficit in the 24-year-old quarterback's career coming into Sunday's clash.
But the Ravens slowly wrestled away control of the game, as Jackson bounced back from a shaky first quarter, the defense buckled down and Baltimore pounded the football to put their imprint on a 20-13 win.
The win served not only as vengeance for a 28-12 loss in last year's Divisional Round, but marked Jackson's first career playoff win.
Here are the top takeaways from this AFC clash.
1. Jackson recovers in a big way
When the Ravens followed up a three-and-out on their opening possession with a Jackson interception, it felt like déjà vu for Baltimore.
Last season's playoff loss to the Titans had a similar feeling, as Jackson threw a first-quarter interception in that contest as well. But Jackson steeled himself following the turnover and played error-free from there on out.
His biggest highlight of the day came on Balitmore's first touchdown of the game, where he slipped out of the grasp of Tennesee's defensive line to burn past the opposition for a 48-yard gem of a score.
His long run marked the longest by a QB in the postseason since Colin Kaepernick scampered for a 56-yarder in 2012.
Jackson finished the day with 136 rushing yards on 16 carries, while also doing damage in the air to the tune of 17-for-24 for 179 yards. His favorite target of the day was Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who hauled in seven grabs for 109 yards on nine targets.
Despite the dubious start to the game, Jackson silenced a lot of doubters as he joined Patrick Mahomes and Dan Marino as the only players in NFL history to win an MVP award and one or more playoff games by the end of their age-23 season.
Jackson's performance impressed FOX Sports NFL analyst Michael Vick, who had the following to say after the game:
"He played with confidence and made it clear he was the best player on the field. Lamar got it done with his legs and arm. The offense featured Hollywood Brown more, and that was the key to victory."
2. Henry goes missing
As mentioned, this game was billed as a clash that would likely be a feast for fans of ground-and-pound action.
The Ravens, who led the league with 3,071 rushing yards this season, delivered on their end. In addition to Jackson's 136 yards, J.K. Dobbins also chipped in with 43 yards and a score as the Ravens racked up a total 236 yards on the ground.
The Titans countered with Derrick Henry, who amassed 2,027 yards by himself this season. Unfortunately for Tennesee, Henry was a king without a crown as the Ravens kept him penned up for most of the contest.
His numbers at halftime were dismal, and an early touchdown from Baltimore in the second half left the Titans playing from behind for the rest of the contest.
Henry received eight more carries in the second half, finishing with 40 yards on 18 rushes — a paltry 2.2 average which stands as the lowest mark in his career in the playoffs.
King Henry certainly powered the Titans to be in postseason contention this season, but one has to wonder if perhaps Tennesee head coach Mike Vrabel went to the well a bit too often.
Henry's 378 carries in the regular season were the most he's had in his five-year career, topping his previous high of 303 — set last year — by a wide margin.
3. Sealed with a stomp
There's no love lost between these familiar foes, that's for sure.
Tempers flared back in November when the Titans were spotted gathering and warming up on the Ravens logo.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh took exception and the two teams got into a bit of a kerfuffle ahead of their Week 11 bout.
The referees de-escalated the situation and the game went on, but clearly, the Ravens didn't forget the transgression.
After Marcus Peters intercepted Tannehill to put the game on ice, the Ravens made sure to find the Titans logo to celebrate.
The officials threw a flag for taunting, but the message was received. Another chapter added to what's quickly becoming a heated rivalry in the AFC.