Some people say that third time’s a charm and it was for Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. In their third matchup in the past two seasons, the Ravens knocked off the Tennessee Titans 20-13. They now advance to the Divisional Round.
Honestly, I had Tennessee winning this game easily. If Derrick Henry dominated the run game, he’d allow Ryan Tannehill to work his play action magic. Another factor that played in was that Tennessee had won the regular season matchup this season. During that game, Baltimore had no answer for Tennessee’s offense — giving up 423 yards of total offense.
Sunday’s matchup was a different story for Baltimore. The team showed toughness, coming back from a ten-point deficit to tie the game up in the second quarter. The most important part is that this Raven’s team showed growth from the two losses prior. They closed this game out and secured Jackson his first playoff win.
The tip of the cap goes to Baltimore’s defense. They were outstanding. The Ravens were able to control the line of scrimmage and it showed.
Derrick Henry was one of the hottest players coming into the playoffs. After becoming the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2000 yards, he was looking to run all over this Baltimore defense — just like he did in week 11.
Tennessee’s offensive line was no match for Baltimore’s defensive front. Any time Derrick Henry received a handoff, he was met quickly by multiple Ravens’ defenders. Baltimore outside linebacker Pernell McPhee was lights out. He led the team with six tackles. McPhee was able to take advantage of the defensive push up front, meet Henry in the hole and hold him up until his help came.
After a rough first half, the secondary tightened up as well. The dagger came late in the fourth. Corner Marcus Peters picked off Tannehill, which ended up being Tennessee’s last drive. At the end of the day, this defense was physical at the line of scrimmage and it made all the difference.
But, what about Lamar Jackson? The last time he played Tennessee in the playoffs he had three turnovers. Lamar definitely learned from his mistakes because he was a different animal.
After an interception to Malcolm Butler, he calmed down and took control of the offense. Jackson wasn’t forcing himself to make plays. He was taking what the defense was giving him. Not only that, but he was able to move chains with his arm when he needed to.
Say what you want about Baltimore receivers, but Jackson is building a nice rapport with Marquise Brown. In Sunday’s game, he found Brown seven times for 109 yards.
It was nice to see Jackson become a game manager and see this game out. The Baltimore quarterback’s best drive was the last drive of the game. He showed great knowledge of the situation. After a 33-yard run, he had the wherewithal to get down in bounds, forcing the Titans to take a timeout. After that, he handed the ball off to Gus Edwards in confidence to move the chains one more time and that was it.
Lamar Jackson showed growth. He wasn’t capable of doing what he did Sunday in his last two playoff appearances. But he was finally able to get the monkey of his first playoff win off his back. With that being said, he’ll need that same approach next week in the Divisional Round in hopes of bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Baltimore.