For the first time since 2002, the Tennessee Titans are heading to the AFC Championship. Mike Vrabel's team finds themselves on the doorstep of a Super Bowl berth after stunning the No. 1 seeded Baltimore Ravens, 28-12.
Tennessee carried the momentum from their Wild Card upset of the Patriots into Baltimore and essentially had this victory secure from the jump going on a 14-0 run to start the game. They were able to get on the board first after Tennessee safety Kevin Byard picked off a tipped pass from Lamar Jackson, one of his three turnovers on the night. Ryan Tannehill, who completed half of his throws for 88 yards and two touchdowns, took the ball 35 yards down the field and ended with a tremendous touchdown grab by tight end Jonnu Smith. After stopping Baltimore on a fourth-and-1 attempt on their next offensive possession, Tannehill came back onto the field and immediately completed a 45-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kalif Raymond.
While the Ravens were able to put up a couple of field goals before halftime and had some momentum heading into the locker room at the break, the Titans were able to go on a back-breaking third-quarter run that pressed their lead over 20 points and essentially put the game out of reach.
Saturday's divisional round games are in the books and there's a lot to go over. Will Brinson is joined by the Pick Six Superfriends to break it all down; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
A large part of that is thanks to running back Derrick Henry, who rushed for 195 yards and he even.
Before we fully turn the page on this game and look forward to the AFC Championship, check out our main takeaways from this stunning upset below.
Why the Titans won
Similar to how they performed in New England last week, the Titans were unafraid walking into Baltimore to face the Ravens and that confidence showed out of the gate. Tennessee picked their spots with Ryan Tannehill as a passer and the veteran quarterback came up clutch when his number was called. An example of that came immediately following a fourth-and-1 stop by the Titans defense as Tannehill completed a 45-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kalif Raymond on his first throw of that drive.
Tennessee also didn't turn the ball over once and forced three turnovers on the day.
As was the case last week, Derrick Henry was the MVP for the Titans. He became the first player in NFL history with two games of 175-plus rushing yards in the same postseason. He finished with 205 yards of total offense, including those 195 rushing yards and a three-yard touchdown pass. His dominance helped Tennessee own the time of possession and really churn clock once they gained a sizable lead. This was their recipe for success in consecutive road games against New England and Baltimore.
Why the Ravens lost
Baltimore looked like a team that hasn't played in three weeks to start the game. The offense wasn't as explosive as we've seen during the regular season, throwing an interception on the opening drive, failing to convert a fourth down on the second and punting it away after that. Meanwhile, the Titans were able to move the ball and score 14 points over that same span.
Really, what worked for the Ravens during the regular season simply didn't in this game. All year they were a perfect 8-8 on fourth-and-1 attempts and were 0-2 tonight. Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson had just six interceptions on the year and only one since Week 6. On this night, Jackson was picked off twice and fumbled once.
While Baltimore was able to have a strong night piling up yards and converting on key third-down attempts, they couldn't punch the ball all the way in for touchdowns and mostly settled for field goals. That was the case the entire first half and their only touchdown of the game came at the beginning of the fourth quarter when the game was pretty much out of reach. They had at least eight drives that ended at either the Titans 36 yard line or closer and only ended up with 12 points. For a team that was prolific scoring the football all season, the well came up dry in this matchup.
Tennesse's back-breaking third quarter was where they truly pulled away. Their second touchdown of the night in the second quarter put a possible upset on the radar, but it was the period coming out of halftime where they really separated themselves far enough that it was nearly impossible for Baltimore to come back. At the 8:37 mark of the third quarter, Derrick Henry ripped off a 66-yard run on a third-and-1 attempt that later set up a passing touchdown for the star back. On the next Ravens drive, defensive tackle Jurrell Casey was able to strip-sack Lamar Jackson to immediately give Tennessee the ball back. Six plays later, Ryan Tannehill was able to rush for a touchdown and put the Titans up by more than 20 points.
Play of the game
Derrick Henry's touchdown pass certainly is an honorably mention, but tight end Jonnu Smith's one-handed touchdown grab to open up the scoring in the first quarter of this game is as good of a catch as you'll see. Smith rose up, brought in the ball with one hand and was able to stay in bounds. Not only was it an impressive grab by Smith, but it was one of the first signs that the Titans were not messing around while facing the top-seeded Ravens.
"This team's identity right now is to get to the playoffs and choke," Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said after the game, per NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala.
He followed this up by saying this is the hard truth and his Ravens will have to look themselves in the mirror.
Heading into the Divisional Round the Ravens were the far and away favorite to not only come out of the AFC, but actually win Super Bowl LIV, so this loss is as stunning as you'll see in this postseason slate. With a chance at a Lombardi dashed in a season that felt like it was destined to end that way, Harbaugh is right to highlight how much this missed opportunity will stick with Baltimore.
After a promising season, the No. 1 seeded Ravens are done. For the Titans, they'll now await the winner of the other AFC Divisional Round showdown between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Because Tennessee is the No. 6 seed, they'll travel to the home stadium of the winner between the Texans and Chiefs.
To see how this game went down in real-time, check out our live blog below.