The Baltimore Ravens leaned on Lamar Jackson and their running game to pull away from the Houston Texans in the second half of the AFC divisional round matchup to pick up a 34-10 victory.
The Ravens rushed for 229 yards with 134 of those coming in the second half. Jackson accounted for 100 of Baltimore’s rushing yards and added two scores with his feet on top of throwing for 152 passing and two scores.
Baltimore and Houston were tied 10-10 at the half, but after opening the third quarter with a 37-yard kick return from receiver Devin Duvernay, Jackson led the Ravens on a six-play, 55-yard drive that ended with him scoring on a 15-yard run.
Baltimore scored on its next three possessions, with Jackson finding tight end Isaiah Likely with a 15-yard touchdown pass, rushing 8 yards for a TD and then a 43-yard Justin Tucker field goal to cap off the victory.
While Jackson and the Ravens found success on the ground, Baltimore’s defense made sure Houston’s offense was unable to do the same. The Ravens limited the Texans to 38 yards rushing and 2.7 per carry.
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 punt return from receiver Steven Sims in the second quarter.
Second-half adjustments made big difference for Ravens
The Ravens had no answers for the Texans blitzes in the first half. Jackson was sacked three times and didn’t appear comfortable at all. However, offensive coordinator Todd Monken made some adjustments. The Ravens came out in the second half and were more aggressive passing on early downs.
Jackson got the ball out quickly. There were more options in the quick game. The offensive line was much better in protection. On the first three drives of the second half, the Ravens scored three touchdowns on six-, 12- and 11-play drives. — Jeff Zrebiec, Ravens beat writer
Todd Monken is bringing high energy and fun times to the Ravens’ offense
The Ravens showed their poise
There was plenty of anxiety in the capacity crowd at halftime, when the Ravens, 9 1/2 point favorites, were tied with the Texans at halftime. Ravens fans had seen this movie before. It felt like 2019 all over again when the Ravens entered the divisional matchup against the Tennessee Titans coming off a bye and with the top seed and were promptly beaten 28-12 by the Titans. The Ravens insisted that they learned from that experience, and Saturday showed that they had. The Ravens didn’t panic. They made adjustments at halftime and they ran the Texans off the field in the second half. — Zrebiec
What went wrong for Houston
For a brief moment, late in the second quarter, it felt like the Texans had their chance: not only had Sims’ 67-yard punt return tied the game, but Stroud was heating up. Quickly. The M&T Bank Stadium crowd, raucous at the start, had quieted, and the ideal underdog script was unfolding.
But the missed chances kept piling up. A 47-yard missed field goal from Ka’imi Fairbairn that would’ve given the Texans a 13-10 halftime lead. The penalties. So, so many penalties. (By game’s end, 11 in all, including four false starts). And a Ravens’ offense that, after struggling to find answers for Houston’s blitz early, was brutally efficient throughout the second half. Jackson was at his best, and the Texans had no answer.
And with it, the AFC’s top seed pulled away.
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’ rush, rarely seeing a clean pocket or receiver with much separation in the back end. He finished with just 175 passing yards, ending one of the most prolific seasons from a rookie quarterback in league history. — Zak Keefer, senior NFL writer
(Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images)