NFL: Bills ride defense past Ravens, advance to AFC championship

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Jan 17 2021 05:15 PM

NFL: Bills ride defense past Ravens, advance to AFC championship 1
Buffalo Bills strong safety Micah Hyde (23) celebrates after a play against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of an AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Bills Stadium. Rich Barnes, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.

Josh Allen isn't all that interested in how a victory looks or whether pundits squawk about his team.

Having more points than the opponent is all that matters to the Buffalo quarterback.

Consider the goal accomplished as Bills cornerback Taron Johnson matched the NFL postseason record with a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown and host Buffalo delivered a 17-3 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC divisional playoff game on a windy Saturday night.

"We got the job done," Allen said. "You don't get style points for winning in the playoffs. You either go home or win and go on to the next round."

Second-seeded Buffalo will play either the Kansas City Chiefs or Cleveland Browns in the AFC title game on Jan. 24. The Chiefs and Browns meet in Kansas City on Sunday.

Watch more on iWantTFC

Buffalo is one win away from reaching the Super Bowl after Allen completed 23 of 37 passes for 206 yards and one score and Stefon Diggs caught eight passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Jerry Hughes recorded two sacks and the Bills' defense held the Baltimore offense out of the end zone as the franchise qualified for the AFC championship game for the first time since the 1993 season.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson suffered a concussion on the final play of the third quarter and missed the rest of the contest.

"Anytime he goes down, you know he's feeling something," Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews said.

Jackson completed 14 of 24 passes for 162 yards and the costly interception by Johnson, a 2018 fourth-round pick from Weber State. Jackson was bottled up as a runner and had just 34 yards on nine carries.

The fifth-seeded Ravens were in position to tie the score late in the third quarter as Jackson dropped back to pass on third-and-goal from the Bills' 9-yard line. But he forced a throw toward the well-covered Andrews in the middle of the field and Johnson intercepted the pass and raced the length of the field to give Buffalo a 17-3 lead with 41 seconds left in the stanza.

"Honestly when the play happened I didn't know what was going on," Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins said. "All we saw was the last name Johnson running down the field. I could barely see and I was like, ‘T.J. just scored!' It was a game changer, a momentum changer."

The 101-yard return matched the record set by George Teague of the Green Bay Packers against the Detroit Lions in an NFC wild-card game on Jan. 8, 1994.

On the Ravens next possession, Jackson was injured after chasing a poor snap by center Patrick Mekari and wildly throwing the ball out of bounds from his own 2-yard line. He landed hard on the turf and smacked his head and was taken to the locker room for evaluation.

Rookie Tyler Huntley replaced Jackson and completed 6 of 13 passes for 60 yards. Huntley threw five regular-season passes after recently being promoted from the practice squad.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said there was nothing stunning about Buffalo's defensive tactics.

"They didn't do anything that surprised us," Harbaugh said. "I thought they executed well. We executed well at times and we weren't able to finish some drives and get the points that we needed. That's the bottom line."

The game was tied at halftime before Buffalo opened the third quarter with an 11-play, 66-yard drive to take a 10-3 advantage. The touchdown came when Allen connected with Diggs from 3 yards out.

Buffalo's Tyler Bass kicked a 28-yard field goal with 2:57 remaining in the first quarter and Baltimore's Justin Tucker booted a 34-yarder with four seconds left in the half.

Tucker missed two other field goals. His 41-yarder in the first quarter clanked off the left upright and his 46-yard attempt in the second quarter caromed off the right upright. Bass was wide right on a 43-yard attempt in the second quarter.