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Buffalo shuts down Lamar Jackson to advance to AFC Championship

In what was supposed to be an epic showdown between Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, Taron Johnson ended up stealing the show.

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Resident Bills Fan

The Buffalo Bills are moving onto the AFC Championship game after a 17-3 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday in a game that featured two defences that were on a mission. Not exactly the way many thought this game would go.

Both offences could not move the ball well on offence in the first half. While the Ravens did have some success running the ball near the beginning of the game, they just couldn’t break through Buffalo’s defence in the end zone. The Bills forced two Baltimore field goals, each of which hitting the uprights. On Baltimore’s last possession of the half, future Hall of Famer Justin Tucker finally managed to deliver a kick through the uprights, hitting a 34-yard field goal to get Baltimore on the board.

Buffalo could only muster three points during the half as well, as Tyler Bass made one of his two field goal attempts as both teams ended the half tied 3 a piece.

Buffalo started the game throwing on 22 of their 24 possessions on offence in their first half. Baltimore did a good job limiting Buffalo’s playmakers though, holding Allen to 13-of-22 for 120 passing yards in the first half. One of Buffalo’s two rushing attempts came from a Josh Allen scramble.

Buffalo changed their offensive game plan a little bit in the second half though. The game plan focused on shorter routes and getting running back Devin Singletary more involved. It seemed to work, as Buffalo managed to move down the field and find Diggs for a touchdown on the game’s opening drive. This would be the game’s only offensive touchdown.

Baltimore responded with a long drive of their own, managing to move the ball into Buffalo’s 10 on a 15-play drive. However, on third-and-goal on Buffalo’s 9, Bills cornerback Taron Johnson intercepted Lamar Jackson and returned the pick for a 101-yard touchdown. His interception is tied for the longest pick-six in the playoffs in NFL history. It was Johnson’s second pick-six of the season.

“I caught the ball and kind of looked down, but then I looked up and saw a whole bunch of green grass to that side of me,” said Johnson. “At that point, there’s one person I have to beat. And that’s No. 8”.

Things got worse for Baltimore on the following drive. On the final play of the third quarter, the snap went straight over Jackson’s head. Jackson hurried to recover the ball and throw the ball out of bounds. The play was called for intentional grounding, and Jackson ended up taking a hard hit in the end zone. Jackson ended up suffering a concussion from the play and wouldn’t return.

Buffalo forced two turnover-on-downs on defence from Baltimore on the following drives, helping the Bills move onto their first AFC Championship game since 1993.

Buffalo did a great job limiting Jackson in the game, generating a strong pass rush and playing zone coverage on almost 70 percent of the snaps Jackson played in the game. Jackson was limited to only 9 rushes for 34 yards in the loss.

Leading the way for the Buffalo pass rush was Jerry Hughes, who recorded two sacks on the night. Levi Wallace and Mario Addison also recorded a sack each on the day too. The Bills did a great job doing what most teams haven’t been able to do this year; make Jackson not feel comfortable as a runner or in the pocket.

The Ravens did a good job limiting Buffalo’s explosive offence to settle for shorter passes. They couldn’t quite contain Stefon Diggs though as he had another great game, catching eight passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.

It was an impressive effort for Buffalo’s defence. They showed they are not afraid to change their defensive scheme up completely in order to match their opponent.

Buffalo is set to face off against the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead Field next Sunday in the AFC Championship game. Buffalo lost in their previous matchup against the Chiefs 26-17 in Week 6.


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