Bills ride defense past Ravens, advance to AFC championship
Taron Johnson matched the NFL postseason record with a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown as the host Buffalo Bills delivered a 17-3 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC divisional playoff game on a windy Saturday night.
Josh Allen passed for 206 yards and one score. Stefon Diggs caught a touchdown pass, 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.
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.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson suffered a concussion on the final play of the third quarter and missed the rest of the contest.
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 well-covered Mark 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.
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.
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 with Allen connected with Diggs (eight receptions, 106 yards) 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.
–Field Level Media