Skip to main content
Presented by

The Breakdown: Brown's Five Thoughts on Ravens Taking Down Texans

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

The Ravens are one victory from the Super Bowl.

Tested by a tough Houston team that played them even for 30 minutes, Baltimore took control in the second half and prevailed, 34-10, in a divisional playoff game before a thunderous crowd at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens will host an AFC Championship game for the first time in franchise history next Sunday against either the Bills or Chiefs, with a trip to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas on the line.

There was plenty of pressure on the Ravens coming into this game, and they delivered with an impressive victory that showed their resiliency and ability to adjust.

Here are my five thoughts on a victory that made Saturday night alright for the Ravens:

Lamar Jackson Responds Like*an*MVP

No other player in the NFL can dominate in as many ways as Jackson. He showed that again with a historic performance, becoming the first player in NFL history with two passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, 100 yards rushing and a quarterback rating over 100 (121.8) in the same game.

The tension was thick at halftime with the score tied, 10-10, and the Texans looking like a team capable of pulling off an upset. Jackson had already been sacked three times by Houston's blitzing defense, and he had plenty to say in the locker room at halftime, although he didn't want to repeat it.

"It wouldn't be appropriate," Jackson said, drawing laughter.

How Jackson responded in the second half was very appropriate for a great player. He led the Ravens on three straight touchdown drives to salt away the victory – his best playoff performance that showed he's more than ready to lead the Ravens to their ultimate goal.

The playoffs are where championships are won and legacies are made. Jackson entered this game with a 1-3 postseason record – the biggest blemish in his stellar career. Even if he tried not to hear talk about his postseason record, he couldn't avoid it.

"You know I've heard it," Jackson said. "I've seen it. I really don't care about what people say. I'm trying to win. This is a different team like I've been saying. We just have to stay locked in."

After his 8-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Jackson playfully ran into the end zone tunnel and temporarily disappeared. But Jackson doesn't plan on going anywhere until the Ravens win a Super Bowl, and they'll be difficult to beat if he keeps playing at this level.

Todd Monken Makes it Happen

This was a signature game for Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken, who made shrewd adjustments that helped gash Houston's defense in the second half.

One of the game's biggest plays came late in the third quarter, when the Ravens went for it on fourth-and-1 from Houston's 49-yard line. Baltimore was ahead, 17-10, and a fourth-down stop by the Texans could've turned the momentum in their favor.

However, the Ravens dialed up a deceptive play, sending Pat Ricard in motion behind Jackson as the ball was snapped. Instead of a calling a basic quarterback sneak or asking Ricard to assist Jackson with a tush-push, Jackson faked a handoff to Edwards, then reversed field to his left and scrambled 14 yards for a key first down.

Monken struck gold again with the call that completed the touchdown drive. On second-and-1 from the 15, Jackson rolled to his right and tucked the ball under his arm on what looked like a running play. But after a few steps to his right, Jackson threw a high pass to Isaiah Likely, who used his size to easily out jump Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. for a touchdown catch.

The working relationship between Monken and Jackson has been a huge part of the offense's success this season. Monken has excelled as a play caller and has given Jackson more freedom to flourish, and Jackson has responded to that trust.

"It means a lot," Jackson said. "For your O.C. to trust in you and put your team in a great situation, that's all I need."

Defense Plays Lights Out

Baltimore's defense did something that few people expected, holding the Houston offense without a touchdown. The Texans' only trip to the end zone came on a 67-yard punt return by Steven Sims in the second quarter, and they were shut out in the second half.

Houston entered this game brimming with confidence riding the shoulders of talented rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, who is clearly one of the game's bright young stars. The Ravens never sacked Stroud, who smartly rolled out of the pocket on many throws to avoid Baltimore's defense that led the league in sacks in the regular season. The Ravens also didn't get any turnovers after leading the league in takeaways.

However, the Ravens kept the Houston at bay, putting an emphasis on preventing big plays to wide receiver Nico Collins (five catches, 68 yards) and shutting down Houston's leading rusher Devin Singletary (nine carries, 22 yards).

Kyle Hamilton, Roquan Smith, Patrick Queen, Jadeveon Clowney and Justin Madubuike were among the Ravens who set the tone early with some ferocious hitting. Smith gave a passionate breakdown speech as the Ravens huddled around after pre-game warmups, then the Ravens backed up Smith's words with action.

Even if the offense had not exploded in the second half, the defense was ready to carry the load.

"I know my motto is, hit everything that moves," Smith said. "It's about imposing your will on your opponent throughout the game and nine times out of 10, they will break. That's just human nature. That's who we are."

Homefield Advantage Is Real

The decibel level at M&T Bank Stadium disrupted the Texans, who had five false starts and one delay of game penalty. The Texans weren't just facing the Ravens, they were facing an atmosphere that made it difficult for them to communicate and change plays at the line of scrimmage.

Smith looked forward to hearing more of the same in the conference championship.

"I know it's going to be rocking next week in the AFC Championship game," Smith said. "It was huge today. I was a witness to it last year, how loud and how hostile the environment can be as well as this year. They love their football and the way they come out; I don't know what they could be on. Maybe it's liquid courage. But they got at the top of their lungs, and it's definitely a big part for us."

Extra Points

  • This is the fourth time that Head Coach John Harbaugh has led the Ravens to the conference championship during his 16-year tenure.
  • Likely (two catches, 34 yards, one touchdown) continued to shine as the starting tight end in his sixth start since Mark Andrews' ankle injury.
  • The Ravens did not report any injuries from this game and could be even healthier for the conference champions game if Andrews and Marlon Humphrey (calf) return.
  • Nelson Agholor's 3-yard touchdown reception was the first postseason touchdown of his career. He got a game ball from Harbaugh.
  • Justin Tucker's 53-yard field goal was the longest in Ravens postseason history and he also added a 43-yarder. With the Ravens desperate for a fast start, that 53-yarder on the opening drive was big.
  • Justice Hill (63 yards rushing), Gus Edwards (40) and Dalvin Cook (23) all supported Jackson in a Baltimore rushing attack that rolled for 229 yards. Cook had a 19-yard burst on his first touch and showed his readiness to contribute in his Ravens debut.

Related Content