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Titans roll over Ravens, head to AFC Championship Game

Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans carries the

Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball against Earl Thomas of the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 11, 2020 in Maryland.  Credit: Getty Images/Will Newton

BALTIMORE — Forget about a Lamar Jackson-Patrick Mahomes showdown in the AFC Championship Game.

Forget about the Ravens following up one of the most dynamic years in franchise history with a memorable playoff run.

Forget about John Harbaugh getting a chance to include a second Super Bowl run on a potential Hall of Fame resume.

Forget about all of it, because the Tennessee Titans ruined what was widely anticipated to be the first step in Jackson’s inexorable march to the Super Bowl after one of the greatest individual seasons in NFL history.

The sixth-seeded Titans rolled over the top-seeded Ravens, 28-12, in Saturday night’s AFC divisional-round playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium, following up on last week’s 20-13 upset win over the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

No, this wasn’t the way Jackson had envisioned it. The league’s presumptive Most Valuable Player, who had 36 touchdown passes and an NFL-record 1,206 rushing yards in leading the Ravens to a 14-2 season, was stifled throughout by this year’s AFC playoff dark horse.

“I’m bringing a Super Bowl here,” Jackson said last week as he prepared for the game. “That’s my goal. That’s what I want to do. I’ve been wanting a Super Bowl ever since I was a kid.”

It will have to wait.

“We just beat ourselves,” said Jackson, who was 31-for-59 for 365 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions and ran for 143 yards but lost a fumble. “I had a lot of mistakes on my part. Three turnovers, that shouldn’t happen.”

Jackson, who was rested for the final regular-season game and hadn’t played in three weeks, wouldn’t blame rust for his performance, but he did think the team’s mindset wasn’t right. “I feel like we were too excited,” he said. “We wanted to score points right away. We tried to beat them to the punch. We were just a little slow.”

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whose career as a starter seemed at an end when he was traded by the Dolphins in the offseason, now is a win away from playing in his first Super Bowl.

The Titans will face the winner of Sunday’s Chiefs-Texans divisional-round game in the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City or Houston. A win in that game and Tannehill would make it to Super Bowl LIV in Miami, where he underachieved as a former first-round pick before being dealt to the Titans in March.

Tannehill, who took over from former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota in the seventh week of the regular season and guided Tennessee to a 7-3 record and a wild-card playoff berth, helped the Titans build a 28-6 lead over the Ravens in the third quarter.

All-Pro running back Derrick Henry, who ran for 182 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots last week, rushed for 195 yards and threw a touchdown pass on a trick play against the Ravens.

Tannehill was just 7-for-14 for 88 yards but threw for two touchdowns and ran for one.

“It’s definitely unusual. Can’t say I’ve seen it before,” said Tannehill, who was held under 100 passing yards in each of his two playoff wins. “But that’s the way the games have played out. We haven’t thrown the ball much, but we’re moving the ball up front [with the running game]. Derrick is making great plays. At this point of the season, it’s about doing what it takes to win, throwing 30 times or 10 times.”

The Titans built a 14-0 lead by the early part of the second quarter on Tannehill’s two touchdown passes. The second, a 45-yarder to Kalif Raymond, came after the Titans stopped Jackson on fourth-and-1.

Henry sparked an 81-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter with a 66-yard run off right guard and a 3-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis. Henry took a direct snap, faked as if he were going to run toward the end zone, then jumped and lobbed a short pass to Davis for a 21-6 lead with 6:54 left in the quarter.

Jackson was sacked and lost a fumble on the next series, and the Titans converted it into another touchdown. Tannehill’s 1-yard run made it 28-6 with 4:16 left in the third quarter.

The Ravens scored their only TD on Jackson’s 15-yard pass to Hayden Hurst with 11:04 left.

  

  

  

  

  

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