The second-seeded Bills ended the season of the fifth-seeded Ravens and advanced to next weekend’s AFC title game. They will visit the top-seeded Chiefs or, if Cleveland upsets Kansas City on Sunday, host the sixth-seeded Browns.
Undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley took over at quarterback and finished the game for the Ravens, who ruled out a return by Jackson. Huntley overthrew wide receiver Marquise Brown, who was open deep, with one fourth-down pass. He missed connections with tight end Mark Andrews on a later fourth-and-goal pass into the end zone.
It is the Bills’ first trip to an AFC championship game in 27 years. They last were there in January 1994, when they beat the Chiefs to secure their fourth straight Super Bowl appearance, all of which resulted in losses.
It has been a season filled with “first time since” accomplishments for the Bills. They won their first AFC East title since 1995. They had their first home playoff game since December 1996. They beat the visiting Indianapolis Colts last weekend at Bills Stadium for their first postseason victory since December 1995. Now they have added to that list.
The Ravens, one week removed from securing the first postseason win of Jackson’s career, failed in their bid to reach their first AFC title game in eight years. They lost for a third straight time in games they’ve played in the divisional round. They last played an AFC championship game in January 2013, when they won at New England to reach a Super Bowl in which they defeated the San Francisco 49ers.
Little came easily for the Ravens during a season in which they suffered a major coronavirus outbreak in late November and early December. They played one rescheduled game on a Wednesday and another on a Tuesday. They had to win their final five games of the regular season just to reach the playoffs as a wild card. They won at Tennessee last weekend. But now they’re going home.
There was no snow Saturday, but the wind affected play. The score was tied at 3 following an inelegant first half in which neither offense could get moving and there were kicking misadventures on both sides, particularly with the Ravens. Their usually reliable kicker, Justin Tucker, missed two first-half field goal attempts, with the ball striking an upright each time. A 23-yard punt by the Ravens’ Sam Koch set up a Bills field goal. Tucker finally connected on a 34-yard field goal four seconds before halftime.
The Bills handed off the ball only once during the first half. They had three rushing attempts, two by Allen and one by running back Devin Singletary. But the game changed in the third quarter. Diggs scored a three-yard touchdown on a screen pass. The Ravens tried to answer, but Jackson forced a third-and-goal pass from the Buffalo 9-yard line into heavy traffic. Johnson made the grab and raced the length of the field. The quarter ended with Jackson on his back in the end zone, receiving medical attention, before he was able to get to his feet and walk to the locker room, where he spent the rest of the game.