Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baltimore Ravens edge Houston Texans 20-13 to reach AFC Championship Game

BALTIMORE — If style points and offensive fireworks meant anything, the Ravens wouldn't stand a chance of making it to the AFC Championship Game.

But playing defense and protecting the football are what they do best, and that formula led to Sunday's 20-13 victory over Houston, putting Baltimore in the AFC title game at New England.

"I always say there is a right way to do things, there is a wrong way to do things and there is just the Ravens' way of doing things," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "It wasn't pretty, but we're not really a pretty team. We got the W and now it's on to the AFC championship."

The Ravens (13-4) had almost as many punts (nine) as first downs (11) and scored three points in the final 46 minutes. But Baltimore wasn't penalized once, didn't commit a turnover, intercepted rookie T.J. Yates three times and totaled four takeaways — two in the final eight minutes.

"If we didn't get any of those turnovers, it would probably be a different game," Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said.

Baltimore visits New England on Sunday, with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis on Feb. 5.

The Patriots lead the series 6-1, but Baltimore's lone win came in the postseason.

Veteran defensive stars Ed Reed and Ray Lewis led a unit that yielded only one touchdown against the Texans and came up with big plays when needed. Lewis had a team-high seven tackles, and Reed sealed the win with the Ravens' fourth takeaway, an interception near the goal line in the closing minutes.

The Ravens finished 9-0 at home, but this was anything but easy. Baltimore led 17-3 after the first quarter, and interceptions by Lardarius Webb and Reed in the final 7½ minutes helped the advantage stand up.

Reed has eight interceptions in 10 playoff games, few bigger than the last one.

"You can't say enough about him," Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "His big plays always seem to happen when you need one."

One week earlier, in the first playoff game in Texans history, Houston didn't commit a turnover in a 31-10 home rout of Cincinnati. Against Baltimore, the Texans (11-7) couldn't hold onto the ball and quickly fell behind by two touchdowns.

Arian Foster ran for 132 yards, the first player ever to rush for 100 yards against the Ravens in the postseason. But Yates' three interceptions matched the total he had in six regular-season games and mitigated his 184 passing yards.

"I can't have the turnovers," said Yates, a third-stringer when the season began. "If I'd done a better job of protecting the football, I really think we'd have come out with the win. We did a good job of moving the ball, and we had some big plays, but you can't have that many picks."

Webb's second interception came with 7½ minutes left and the Ravens clinging to 17-13 advantage after getting stuffed on fourth and goal from the 1 late in the third quarter. Baltimore moved 45 yards to get a field goal by Billy Cundiff with 2:52 left.

Comments
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

The dust has settled from another NFL draft, and Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made three promotions in his scouting department as a new year of player evaluation begins.Byron Kiefer, entering his 14th season with the Bucs and fourth as a nati...
Updated: 12 hours ago
NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

ATLANTA — The NFL and the owners of its 32 teams enacted a new national anthem policy Wednesday designed, they said, to compel players to stand if they’re on the sideline for the playing of the anthem prior to a game."Clearly our objective as a leagu...
Published: 05/23/18
Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Lakewood grad Bernard Reedy, who handled the Bucs' kickoff and punt returns for much of last season, is back with Tampa Bay again.Reedy, 26, was signed on Wednesday, one day after the Bucs began OTA workouts. Thomas Sperbeck, the former Boise State r...
Published: 05/23/18
NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL owners passed a new policy Wednesday with the hopes of moving on from boycotts and political turmoil related to some players protesting by not standing during the national anthem before games.Under the new policy, NFL players are not required to ...
Published: 05/23/18
New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

And you thought our headline would be "Mariota hosts NFL draft before Winston."The NFL owners are meeting in Atlanta this week, and that means a new batch of future Super Bowls getting announced for their homes.A year ago, Tampa got the huge news, an...
Published: 05/23/18
Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

It's hard to miss new Bucs center Ryan Jensen at OTA workouts this week, with his long red hair visible from across the field even when he's wearing a helmet."Any recommendations for anti frizz shampoo and conditioner?" Jensen wrote on Twitter with a...
Published: 05/23/18
Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

TAMPA — He's 30."I know. I'm getting old," Gerald McCoy said Tuesday, shaking his head.He's still a young man, of course. But in football years, McCoy has finally reached a black balloon birthday. This is his ninth season with the Bucs, which i...
Published: 05/22/18