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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Divisional

Bills advance to AFC championship with 17-3 win over Ravens

Sun Jan 17 1:24am ET
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) celebrates after an NFL divisional round football game against the Baltimore Ravens Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills won 17-3. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) lies on the ground after being injured during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Jackson left the game after his injury. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)


A trainer checks on Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, below, after he was injured during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)


Buffalo Bills' Taron Johnson (24) returns an interception for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game against the Baltimore Ravens Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)


Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs past Baltimore Ravens' Marlon Humphrey (44) and Jimmy Smith (22) for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) In what was supposed to be a showdown between Buffalo's Josh Allen and Baltimore's Lamar Jackson, Taron Johnson literally stole the show.

If not for the wall separating the field from the stands in the back of the east end zone, the Bills cornerback might still be running after returning an interception 101 yards for a touchdown that propelled Buffalo to its first AFC championship game appearance in 27 years.

Johnson's pick-6 of Jackson's pass with 41 seconds remaining in the third quarter helped secure a 17-3 win over the Ravens in a divisional-round playoff game Saturday night.

''We're excited. It's not done yet, we're not done yet,'' Johnson exclaimed. ''It's just a blessing. Our defense stepped up to the challenge.''

Johnson's return matched the longest in NFL history and punctuated a stellar defensive outing in which Buffalo (15-3) limited the NFL's top running offense to 150 yards on 32 carries.

Jackson, last season's NFL MVP, was sacked three times and did not return after sustaining a concussion following the final play of the third quarter, and two plays after Johnson scored. He finished 14 of 24 for 162 yards passing, while being limited to 42 yards rushing on nine carries.

Allen, an MVP candidate this year, finished 23 of 37 for 206 yards and a touchdown.

In a season in which the Bills relied mostly on their dynamic Allen-led offense to outscore opponents, the third-year quarterback was gratified to see Buffalo's defense make a difference in a game the pass-happy attack was kept mostly in check.

''I can't say enough words for what that game was for our defense,'' Allen said. ''Taron Johnson's is a play that people are going to remember for a long time here in Buffalo, potentially a franchise-altering play.''

The Bills advanced to the AFC championship game for the first time since 1994 on their way to making - and losing - their four consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Buffalo also extended a season in which it has broken numerous droughts by claiming its first AFC East division title in 25 years and, with last week's victory over Indianapolis, winning its first postseason game since the same year.

The Bills, have won eight straight to match their best streak since 1990 and will play the winner of the AFC's other divisional playoff between Cleveland and Kansas City on Sunday.

The fifth-seeded Ravens (12-6) had their season come to an end after leading the NFL in yards rushing for a second consecutive year.

Baltimore clinched its third playoff berth in three years by winning its final five regular-season games. The winning streak came after a 1-4 skid capped by a 19-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Dec. 2 in a game rescheduled three times due to COVID-19 issues.

''It's a sad moment, but this team has been through a lot,'' tight end Mark Andrew said. ''It's tough right now, but teammates and coaches and camaraderie, it was a group of special guys that worked hard, came to work every day and didn't take anything for granted. We're going to hold our heads high and come back and work.''

Tied at 3 after the first half, the Bills took control in the third quarter.

Buffalo went ahead 10-3 on Allen's 3-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs to cap an 11-play, 66-yard opening drive.

The Ravens threatened to answer on their next drive, which ended with Johnson's interception. With Baltimore facing third-and-goal from the 9, Johnson jumped in front of the pass intended for Andrews and took off up the right sideline. He followed teammate Tre'Davious White, who made sure Jackson didn't have an angle to push Johnson out of bounds.

Johnson, who also returned an interception for a score in a 26-15 win over Pittsburgh on Dec. 13, said he initially thought about going down after catching the ball, before seeing no one in front of him.

''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,'' he said. ''At that point, there's one person I have to beat. And that's No. 8 (Jackson).''

Johnson's interception return matched Packers defensive back George Teague's INT return in Green Bay's 28-24 win over Detroit in a wild-card playoff on Jan. 8, 1994.

Things turned worse for Baltimore two snaps later, when Jackson was forced out of the game.

Facing second-and-10 at Baltimore's 25, center Patrick Mekari snapped the ball over Jackson's head. The quarterback turned and chased the bouncing ball down inside the 5, turned and quickly threw it away as Tremaine Edmunds had him by the legs and Trent Murphy fell on top of him.

Jackson's injury left Tyler Huntley to finish the game after being promoted off the practice squad.

''I'm not frustrated at all,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in announcing Jackson sustained a concussion. ''The players are disappointed. It's tough to lose a game. Our guys played like crazy, and if you don't win the game you're going to feel it.''

MISSING KICKS

Gusting winds played havoc with the kickers.

Baltimore's Justin Tucker, the NFL's most accurate kicker, hit the left upright from 41 yards and the right upright from 46 yards, before hitting a 34-yard attempt. It was the first time he missed twice from inside 50 yards in the same game.

Buffalo rookie Tyler Bass missing two of three field goal attempts - a 43-yarder that was wide right in the second quarter and a 44-yarder that sailed wide left with 5:30 remaining.

PRACTICE SQUAD TO PLAYOFFS

Huntley, who had attempted just five passes in two appearances this season, finished 6 of 13 for 60 yards on three drives, the final two in which Baltimore turned the ball over on downs.

UP NEXT

Ravens: Season over.

Bills: Advance to AFC championship game for first time since 1994, where they'll face Cleveland or play Kansas City for a second time this season following a 26-17 loss to the Chiefs on Oct. 19.

Player Notes
Lamar Jackson Jan 17 9:13am ET

Confirming previous reports, Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (concussion) did suffer a concussion near the end of the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Round game against the Buffalo Bills, according to head coach John Harbaugh.

Fantasy Spin: Jackson will have plenty of time to recover from the concussion during the offseason and should be at full strength when the team's offseason program gets underway. He remains one of the league's top quarterback options because of his rushing ability and should be a starting option in fantasy leagues next season.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Jones II Jan 17 8:53am ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (quadriceps, finger) appears to have a good chance to play in the NFC Divisional Round game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Jan. 17, after participating in the walkthrough Saturday, Jan. 16. A final decision about his status will be made when the team arrives at the stadium.

Fantasy Spin: Jones had been listed as questionable on the injury report after participating in two of the team's three practice sessions during the week on a limited basis. However, he should be viewed as a somewhat risky fantasy play this weekend, since RB Leonard Fournette has already been declared the starter versus the Saints.

From TheHuddle

Aaron Donald Jan 17 8:53am ET

Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald (ribs) was not at full strength during the team's loss in the NFC Divisional Round game versus the Green Bay Packers, according to head coach Sean McVay. He played only 39 out of 72 defensive snaps while dealing with torn rib cartilage, including just 12 plays in the second half.

From TheHuddle

Latavius Murray Jan 17 8:33am ET

The New Orleans Saints are not expected to have RB Latavius Murray (quadriceps) available for their NFC Divisional Round game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Jan. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Murray had been listed as questionable on the injury report after only being able to practice on a limited basis Friday, Jan. 15. Assuming that he is declared inactive this week, RB Alvin Kamara should be in line for approximately 20 touches against the Tampa Bay defense, with RB Ty Montgomery worthy of consideration as an inexpensive flier in DFS.

From TheHuddle

Taysom Hill Jan 17 8:33am ET

The New Orleans Saints are not expected to have QB Taysom Hill (knee) available for their NFC Divisional Round game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Jan. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Hill had been listed as questionable on the injury report after only being able to practice on a limited basis Friday, Jan. 15. Despite his versatility as a passer, rusher and receiver, Hill doesn't possess much value in postseason fantasy games but he could be viewed as a low-end QB1 option in seasonal formats next year, assuming that QB Drew Brees retires at the end of the Saints' current playoff run.

From TheHuddle

Josh Allen Jan 16 11:53pm ET

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen went 23-for-37 for 206 yards and one touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round playoff game. RB Devin Singletary rushed for 25 yards on seven carries and caught three passes for 12 yards. WR Stefon Diggs caught eight passes for 106 yards and one touchdown on 11 targets, while WR John Brown caught eight passes for 62 yards on 11 targets. WR Cole Beasley was targeted twice but finished with zero receptions.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Jackson Jan 16 11:43pm ET

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson went 14-for-24 for 162 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception against the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round playoff game. Jackson also rushed for 34 yards on nine carries. RBs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins both rushed for 42 yards on 10 carries. Dobbins also caught three passes for 51 yards. WR Marquise Brown caught four passes for 87 yards on seven targets, while TE Mark Andrews caught four passes for 28 yards on 11 targets.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Jackson Jan 16 11:03pm ET

Updating a previous report, Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (head) will not return to the Divisional Round playoff game.

Fantasy Spin: Jackson will have plenty of time to recover from the injury and should be ready for the offseason program. He is still one of the top fantasy quarterbacks because of his running ability and will be a weekly starting option in leagues next season.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Jackson Jan 16 11:00pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is in the concussion protocol and will not return to Saturday's Divisional Round playoff game against the Buffalo Bills. Jackson went down hard in the second half and stayed on the ground for a few moments before exiting. The Bills currently lead 17-3 and Tyler Huntley is in at quarterback for Baltimore. Barring a stunning comeback, Jackson's season will end on Saturday. He finishes this game 14-for-24 for 162 yards and an interception with nine carries for 34 yards.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson Jan 16 10:53pm ET

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (head) left the Divisional Round playoff game early and is being evaluated for a concussion.

Fantasy Spin: Jackson will need time to recover if he is diagnosed with a concussion but will have the entire offseason to recover if the team does not advance in the playoffs. He should be a starting option in all leagues next season.

From TheHuddle

Danny Shelton Jan 16 10:43pm ET

Detroit Lions DT Danny Shelton (triceps) underwent triceps surgery earlier in the week.

From TheHuddle

Tyrell Williams Jan 16 10:23pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders WR Tyrell Williams may be a cap casualty this season because the team would save $11.6 million in salary cap space if they release him.

Fantasy Spin: Williams has struggled with injuries since joining the Raiders and may be looking for a new team this offseason. He can be a decent No. 3 receiver for a team and has a chance to be a late-round fantasy option depending on his situation.

From TheHuddle

Jaylon Smith Jan 16 9:03pm ET

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith (wrist) is expected to be ready for the start of the offseason program even though he recently underwent wrist surgery, according to sources.

From TheHuddle

Aaron Jones Jan 16 8:20pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones carried the ball 14 times for 99 yards with one touchdown and 14 receiving yards in the team's 32-18 win over the Rams in the NFC Divisional Round. Jones went up against a stingy Rams Defense and ran hard between the tackles. The free-agent-to-be cashed in with a one-yard run for a touchdown in the second half and averaged a robust 7.1 yards per carry. The Packers offense didn't miss a beat against the Rams and will be favorites at home next week in the NFC Championship. Jones will continue to handle the bulk of carries out of the backfield heading into the team's next matchup.

From RotoBaller

Jamaal Williams Jan 16 8:10pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams carried the ball 12 times for 65 yards in the Packers 32-18 playoff victory over the Rams. Williams' opportunities expanded after some hard early runs picked up some substantial gains. Few question that teammate Aaron Jones is the lead runner in the Packers offense but Williams provides an intriguing change-of-pace to the attack. Jones is the preferable fantasy choice for the forthcoming NFC Championship Game. But fantasy teams could find excellent value in a player like Williams, who could easily steal a touchdown in the red zone next week.

From RotoBaller

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jan 16 8:10pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught four passes for 33 yards in the team's 32-18 playoff victory over the Rams. Valdes-Scantling got involved in early, picking up some nice receptions as the Rams tried to contain star receiver Davante Adams. The offensive flow eventually moved away from Valdes-Scantling, however, as the game progressed. Valdes-Scantling saw a healthy eight targets in the game as Los Angeles tried all it could to divert the action away from Adams. Valdes-Scantling will be a touchdown-dependent tournament option, at best, next week in the NFC Championship Game,

From RotoBaller

Allen Lazard Jan 16 8:00pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard caught four passes for a team-high 96 yards with one touchdown in the Packers 32-18 triumph over the Rams in the NFC Divisional Round. Lazard was targeted eight times in the game but finally exploded in the fourth quarter, catching a bomb from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and sprinting to the end zone for a 58-yard score. The Rams did all they could to take star receiver Davante Adams out of the offensive game plan but Rodgers hit big with his secondary receivers. Adams will continue to get the headlines but receivers like Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling will carry fantasy sleeper appeal in tournaments for the NFC Championship Game next week.

From RotoBaller

Robert Tonyan Jan 16 8:00pm ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan caught four passes for 60 yards in the team's 32-18 win over the Rams in the NFC Divisional Round. Tonyan has been known this season for his ability to score touchdowns but contributed in other ways to help the Packers take down the Rams. The talented tight end was a safety valve for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in crucial situations and did a nice job picking up some extra yards after the catch. Tonyan led all tight ends this season with 11 touchdowns and should see a healthy amount of targets in the NFC Championship Game next week.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Jan 16 7:50pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce should be in line for a top performance on Sunday's Divisional Round slate when the Chiefs take on the Cleveland Browns. The Browns allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season and Kelce last caught fewer than seven passes way back in Week 7. He's far-and-away the best tight end play on this slate and DFS players who stack Kelce with quarterback Patrick Mahomes could find themselves having a lot of success on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Jan 16 7:50pm ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 23-of-36 passes for 296 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing score in the Packers 32-18 win over the Rams in the NFC Divisional Round. Rodgers got his team off to a hot start early, connecting with star receiver Davante Adams in the first quarter for a one-yard touchdown. The veteran passer slyly maneuvered his way into the end zone for a rushing score and then put the nail in the coffin with a 58-yard strike to Allen Lazard to extend the score to its final 32-18 number. Rodgers has been arguably the best passer in the NFL this season and will be a top choice in tournament play for Championship Weekend.

From RotoBaller