The 4-seed Tennessee Titans took on the 5-seed Baltimore Ravens at home in a playoff rematch. Lamar Jackson was looking to change his playoff narrative and avenge last year’s defeat. The Titans were looking for their first home playoff win since 2002.
The Ravens were able to contain the explosive Titans offense and continue the now five-game streak of the road team winning the playoff matchup between these two clubs to emerge with the victory. Here’s how it all went down…
The Ravens won the tip and kicked off to Tennessee. Off a play-fake to Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill kept the ball for a short gain, but overall, the Ravens defense bottled up the Titans on their first possession. An off-target deep throw for A.J. Brown on third down led to a punt.
The Ravens got things started with J.K. Dobbins followed by a Lamar Jackson keeper, but the Titans defense was all over it. On third and five, Kevin Byard broke up a short pass over the middle intended for Mark Andrews, and the two teams traded three-and-outs to open the game.
Derrick Henry got rumbling on the next possession, picking up seven yards on first and second down. Tannehill again looked deep for Brown on third and short, and Brown came up with a beautiful catch on a pinpoint throw through contact from Marlon Humphrey. Another strike to Brown over the middle made up for a false start penalty, and a few plays later, Tannehill found Brown in the back of the end zone where he beat Humphrey again for the touchdown. Titans took an early 7-0 lead.
The Ravens looked to answer, picking up a quick first down. But then the Titans defense got pressure on the quarterback, who floated a deep ball way underthrown for Miles Boykin. Malcolm Butler was there to intercept the ball and retake possession for Tennessee.
The Titans marched down the field again, going 45 yards in seven plays with a big catch-and-run by Anthony Firkser for 35 yards. But the defense bottled up Henry on first down from the BAL 28, and two incompletions led to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal try from 45 yards out. The veteran kicker split the uprights to make the Titans lead 10-0.
Baltimore’s offense finally got in gear on their next drive, but not until after finishing the first quarter with a third-and-seven conversion from their own 28, after Adoree Jackson missed a chance to take down (Lamar) Jackson in the backfield.
End 1Q — Titans 10, Ravens 0
After crossing midfield, the Ravens got into scoring position with a nice deep throw to Marquise Brown at the TEN 14 with Adoree in coverage. Butler nearly intercepted Jackson again on the next play, and on third-and-six from the TEN 10, Brooks Reed came up with a sack to force a Justin Tucker field goal, cutting the Titans lead down to 10-3.
On their next possession, the Titans got a free first down via illegal hands to the face, but then couldn’t move the ball any further. Tannehill was sacked on third and five, and the Titans punted for the second time with 6:43 to go in the half.
Lamar Jackson finally broke free on Baltimore’s next drive. Just after crossing midfield, Desmond King got pressure on Jackson and Matt Dickerson took him down for a sack and loss of one yard. But on the next play, with every defender’s back turned in man coverage, pressure again forced Jackson to step up, and this time, the reigning MVP wouldn’t be stopped, taking it 48 yards all the way to the house and evening up the score at 10 with 2:32 on the clock.
The Titans couldn’t respond. A blown-up screen attempt was batted back at Tannehill, who caught the ball and was taken down 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage to set up second and 20. An incompletion and a give-up draw to Jeremy McNichols brought out Brett Kern for his third punt with 1:51 remaining and Baltimore also set to receive the second-half kickoff.
The Titans defense brought up a quick third and 10 after a second-down sack by Harold Landry (for no gain or loss). On third down, Jackson was under pressure and rolling out of the pocket when he found Hollywood Brown over the middle for 19 yards. Jackson lost six yards on the next play with a throw behind the line to Dobbins. DaQuan Jones picked up the Titans fourth sack of the half on a three-man rush on the following snap. A fourth-down hold on Tennessee gave the Ravens a free first down with five seconds left, and Jackson took a knee.
End 1H — Titans 10, Ravens 10.
The Ravens opened the second half with their most successful drive of the game, pounding it with Jackson’s legs and a mix of Dobbins as well. The Titans defense failed to contain the Ravens run game as they marched 77 yards in 10 plays, capped by a six-yard run into the end zone by Dobbins. The Ravens took their first lead of the game, 17-10.
Facing a crucial drive for momentum, the Titans managed to pick up one first down, Baltimore’s defense continued to bottle up Derrick Henry. A tightly contested third-and-three throw to Corey Davis fell incomplete. Kern punted back to Baltimore, pinning the Ravens at their own seven yard line.
Tennessee’s defense held the Ravens to short gains on first and second down, and on third and three, Jackson tried to keep the ball. Landry and Jeffery Simmons weren’t fooled by the misdirection this time and combined to take Jackson down in the backfield. Baltimore punted right back to the Titans with the third quarter winding down.
The Titans’ offense woke up for the first time since their first-quarter field goal to close out the quarter. Tannehill went up top to Brown for an 18-yard gain to start things off, but Henry continued to struggle finding room to run. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine picked up 10 yards on a slant to set up first and goal, where Baltimore’s defense continued to be stout. The Titans failed to convert on third and goal from the BAL 5, bringing us to the end of the third.
End 3Q — Titans 10, Ravens 17.
Gostkowski kicked through his second field goal to open the final frame, narrowing the Ravens’ lead to four. The Titans defense badly needed a stop, but Brown beat Adoree on multiple plays to set up Baltimore at the TEN 37. From there the defense “Titan’d” up, stopping Gus Edwards for a three-yard gain and forcing back-to-back incompletions. Tucker came out for a 52-yard field goal try, which drifted to the right ever so slightly and missed. The Titans took over at their own 42.
Brown picked up a first down on a nice catch-and-run through tacklers, and Henry ripped off his longest run of the day on the next play to set up second and two. From there, the Titans went away from Henry, first attempting another downfield shot to Brown that sailed out of bounds, and then Jonnu Smith failed to haul in a contested play that would’ve gained a first down. From the BAL 40, the Titans made the questionable decision to punt back to Baltimore. It was a game-changing call by Mike Vrabel to not go for it on fourth down, opting for what amounted to 25 yards of field position rather than a chance to keep the offense on the field and potentially go take a lead.
In response, Jackson and co. put together another nice drive, picking up yards methodically and working downfield and retaking momentum. On third and six from the TEN 27, the defense made the tackle to bring up fourth and two. Baltimore elected to go for it, and an offensive pick pass interference backed them up to fourth and 12. Tucker was true from 51 yards this time to extend the lead to 20-13. The Titans defense got off the field, but not until the Ravens had burned 5:41 off the clock, leaving Tennessee with a seven-point deficit and 4:19 left to make it up.
Right away, Tannehill found his team facing a fourth-and-short from their own 30 after Baltimore stopped Henry from gaining one yard on third down. Tannehill snuck it to pick up the first and then hit Westbrook-Ikhine for a short gain to take it to the two-minute warning. On the next play, with Davis and Westbrook-Ikhine on the sidelines with injuries, Tannehill tried to find Kalif Raymond over the middle. The pass appeared to be on target to Raymond, who had leverage against Marcus Peters, but the receiver fell down and allowed an easy interception. The Ravens were flagged for taunting after the play, and the Titans still had all three timeouts with 1:50 to go and the ball on the BAL 38.
The Titans forced a needed incompletion on first down, but then they allowed Jackson to break free for a 33-yard gain, essentially icing the Ravens’ win. Baltimore picked up one more first down for good measure, and Jackson kneeled out the win.
Final: Titans 13, Ravens 20.
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