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REACTION: NFL Divisional Round

Ravens use strong second half to power past Texans

After a slow first quarter that yielded a field goal for each team, Baltimore capped off its 11-play, 76-yard drive with the first touchdown of the game, coming on a 3-yard reception by receiver Nelson Agholor.

The two teams traded three-and-outs, and with 4:17 left in the first half, Houston punt returner Steven Sims took Jordan Stout’s punt 67 yards for a touchdown, tying the game at 10-10.

The Texan defense then forced another punt, giving their offense a chance to go down the field and potentially take the lead before halftime.

Quarterback C.J. Stroud led the team down the field, but the drive yielded no points, as Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 47-yard field goal, leaving the game tied 10-10 going into halftime.

Baltimore came out of the locker room and dominated the second half, gaining 226 yards on their first three drives, each resulting in a touchdown, followed by a field goal on their fourth drive. 

The defense shut down the Texans, giving up 58 yards in the second half.

The Ravens secured their first appearance in the AFC Championship since the 2012-13 season with a 34-10 win.

The Texans had one of the best turnarounds from last season to this season and will look to continue to build in the offseason.

Packers come up short in Santa Clara

Two long drives for Green Bay only resulted in a 3-0 lead. The first drive chewed up over half the quarter but stalled inside the red zone, and an Anders Carlson field goal put the Packers on the board.

Two questionable spots on third and fourth down, again in the red zone, prevented Green Bay from growing the lead on their second drive, as the referees deemed the ball to be short of the line to gain both times.

San Francisco woke up on their second drive, taking the ball 86 yards in a dozen plays to take a 7-3 lead midway through the second quarter. 

After another long possession by Green Bay, the 49ers’ defense once again stood tall in the red zone, forcing another Anders Carlson field goal, making the score 7-6.

San Francisco took nearly the rest of the half on their ensuing drive, but no points came of it due to Jake Moody’s field goal attempt being blocked, leaving the home team up 7-6 at halftime.

In a third quarter that featured big plays, it was the Packers who came away with the 21-14 advantage after outscoring the 49ers 15-7 in the quarter.

An interception by Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love late in the third set up a 52-yard Jake Moody field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, making the score 21-17.

The Packers had an opportunity to take a two-possession lead with a touchdown but had to settle for a 41-yard field attempt that went wide left, leaving the lead at four.

San Francisco took advantage, going 69 yards in twelve plays, and it was a six-yard run by Christian McCaffrey that put the Niners back on top 24-21. 

With one last chance to advance to the NFC Championship, Love was pressured and committed the cardinal sin among quarterbacks, throwing the ball across his body to the middle of the field, and the ball was picked off by linebacker Dre Greenlaw, sealing the win for the 49ers.

The Packers will head into the offseason with a team that has potential for next season, as San Francisco will head to its fourth NFC Championship in the last five years.

Lions book first NFC Championship trip since 1991

On Tampa Bay’s opening drive, Baker Mayfield threw an interception, but the Buccaneer defense kept Detroit out of the end zone, holding them to a field goal.

An 8-play 50-yard drive finished off by a 43-yard Chase McLaughlin field goal tied the game at 3-3, only for Detroit to go 75 yards in 14 plays and score the game’s first touchdown, taking a 10-3 lead.

Just before halftime, Baker Mayfield led Tampa 92 yards down the field in just seven plays to tie the game at 10-10.

The first three combined drives of the second half resulted in punts, followed by the next three, all resulting in touchdowns, two for Detroit and one for Tampa Bay, putting the Lions up 24-17 early in the fourth quarter.

After forcing a three-and-out, Detroit would extend their lead to 14 after an 89-yard drive.

The Buccaneers struck back quickly, scoring in less than two minutes to cut the lead down to eight with 4:37 left.

After forcing a punt, Tampa had 1:59 to go 90 yards to potentially send the game to overtime. However, in a familiar sight to Browns fans, Baker Mayfield ended those hopes on the second play of the drive when he threw an interception to linebacker Derrick Barnes.

Detroit is now just one win away from their first-ever Super Bowl appearance but will have to defeat San Francisco next Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on FOX, and the Buccaneers will look to defend the NFC South title next season.

Allen and the Bills again fall to the Chiefs in the playoffs

Once again, Buffalo fans were asked to help shovel snow out of the stadium, as this time, they had home-field advantage over Kansas City.

The Bills went 14 plays on the game’s first drive but only got a field goal out of it, and it was matched by Kansas City on its opening drive.

The next drive took over six minutes and resulted in a 5-yard touchdown run by Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, putting his team up 10-3.

A second field goal by kicker Harrison Butker made the score 10-6, then Travis Kelce’s 22-yard touchdown reception put the Chiefs up 13-10.

The Bills took just over three minutes to take the lead back, as Allen ran for his second touchdown of the first half, putting Buffalo up 17-13 at the break.

Each team scored on a 75-yard touchdown drive on their opening drive of the second half, still leaving Buffalo up four, this time by a score of 24-20.

However, Kansas City would take back the lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Isiah Pacheco.

A failed fake punt attempt left the Chiefs with the opportunity to take a two-score lead, but receiver Mecole Hardman fumbled inside the five, and the ball went into the end zone and out of bounds, resulting in a touchback for Buffalo.

After punts by both teams, the Bills were still down 27-24 and began their potential game-winning drive. 

The drive lasted 16 plays but ended up stalling after 54 yards, and reliable kicker Tyler Bass missed the game-tying field goal with 1:43 left and was forced to watch Kansas City bleed out the final minutes.

Buffalo will once again regroup and try to find a way to break through and get over the hump, and Kansas City will head to Baltimore for the AFC Championship next Sunday at 3 p.m. on CBS.

Demetri Manousos is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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