"He [Lamar] knew he should have done something better to not throw an interception, so he was level-headed, he was calm," said Brown.
After beating the Tennessee Titans on the road, 20-13, in the wild-card round Sunday, the Ravens are headed to Buffalo to take on the Bills on Saturday night. It’s just the 10th all-time meeting between the franchises and the first in the postseason.
Here are five things to know about the Bills.
The Bills are led by Lamar Jackson’s first-round draftmate.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen was one of four signal-callers selected ahead of Lamar Jackson, who went No. 32 overall, in the 2018 NFL draft. Buffalo picked the Wyoming star with the No. 7 overall pick after trading up from No. 12, sending two second-round picks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to complete the deal. After completing just 52.8% of his passes as a rookie, Allen has improved his accuracy to have his best season, garnering Most Valuable Player talk behind Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes.
Allen completed 69.2% of his passes for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns — both franchise single-season records — along with 10 interceptions and was named second-team All-Pro alongside Mahomes. And like Jackson, Allen can run, but it’s in a more bruising, downhill fashion compared with Jackson’s elusive style. Allen rushed for 421 yards, a career-low, and eight scores.
A Maryland product has transformed Buffalo’s offense.
Before the 2020 season, Buffalo acquired wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings in a blockbuster trade. The Bills sent a first-round pick and three additional selections to Minnesota, but the price was well worth it for Diggs, a Gaithersburg native who starred at Maryland from 2012 to 2014.
In his first season in Buffalo, Diggs has had a career year, leading the league in catches (127) and receiving yards (1,535) to along with eight touchdowns. He was named to his first Pro Bowl this season and was voted first-team All Pro. Diggs is also well acquainted with a member of the Ravens defense. He and outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue played alongside each other for two seasons in College Park.
The Bills might be hotter than the Ravens.
The Ravens, winners of six straight, are one of the hottest teams in the league. But the Bills might be soaring even higher. Buffalo has won seven in a row, including its 27-24 home win over the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round. Their last defeat, a 32-30 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10, came on a successful “Hail Mary” touchdown pass by Kyler Murray with one second remaining. Since that loss, the Bills have won their seven games by an average margin of 17 points.
The Bills have a solid defense, ranked 12th in efficiency by Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings. But Buffalo has been susceptible to giving up chunks of yards on the ground. The run defense has allowed an average of 119.6 yards per game, which ranks 17th, and 4.6 yards per attempt, which ranks 25th. In their win over the Colts, the Bills allowed 163 rushing yards and 5.4 yards per carry.
That plays right into the hands of the Ravens, who have the league’s best running attack, led by Jackson. The Ravens ran for 191.9 yards per game in the regular season and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Jackson, who became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons, had 136 rushing yards against the Titans on Sunday, including a 48-yard touchdown run.
Like the Ravens, the Bills just exorcised playoff demons.
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Both the Ravens and Bills could breathe a deep sigh of relief after their respective playoff wins. For the Ravens, it was their first postseason victory since 2014 and Jackson’s first in three tries. Their playoff drought hasn’t been as long as the Bills, who picked up their first playoff win since 1995.
Since their inception in 1996, the Ravens have won two Super Bowls and are tied for the third-most playoff appearances since 2000. Before a two-decades-plus long drought, the Bills appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls (1991 to 1994) but came up short each time.