Ravens clinch playoff berth, knock off Falcons, 17-9, behind running game and defense – The Denver Post


The Ravens clinched a playoff berth Saturday, relying on their defense and ground game to hold off the Atlanta Falcons, 17-9.

Led by running back Gus Edwards (11 carries for 99 yards), the Ravens rushed 34 times for 184 yards (5.4 per carry). A 5-yard plunge by Edwards for a first down with just under two minutes remaining extinguished Atlanta’s hopes inside a frigid M&T Bank Stadium. It was just 17 degrees at kickoff, the coldest weather for a Ravens home game in franchise history.

After missing the postseason last year, the Ravens (10-5) clinched a playoff berth with the victory and some outside help. After the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the New York Jets on Thursday, the Ravens needed only a loss Saturday by the New England Patriots to the Cincinnati Bengals or a loss Sunday by the Miami Dolphins to the Green Bay Packers to punch their ticket. The Bengals obliged, holding off a late Patriots rally for a 22-18 win to maintain their one-game lead in the AFC North.

Huntley, making his third straight start in place of injured starter Lamar Jackson (knee), was more caretaker than playmaker against a leaky Falcons (5-10) defense. He had 11 carries for 26 yards — including three scrambles, plus a fumble the Ravens recovered — and finished 9-for-17 for 115 yards and a touchdown, with most of the production coming in the first half. Tight end Mark Andrews had three catches for 45 yards.

Against a Ravens defense missing defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback Marcus Peters, Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder finished 22-for-33 for 218 yards. Rookie wide receiver Drake London had seven catches for 96 yards, while rookie running back Tyler Allgeier had 18 carries for 74 yards (4.1 per carry).

Red-zone execution marred the Ravens’ offense, but a goal-line stop by their defense helped put the game away. With about nine minutes left, the Falcons were at the Ravens’ 4-yard line, trailing by just nine.

But Allgeier stumbled awkwardly on a second-down handoff from the 2, scuttling a possible touchdown with a run that went for nothing. Ridder scrambled for a yard on third-and-goal. And on fourth-and-goal from the 1, inside linebacker Patrick Queen and defensive tackle Isaiah Mack helped drop Allgeier for a 1-yard loss.

A week after abandoning the run in the fourth quarter of a 13-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens didn’t overthink things on offense. Their first touchdown in eight quarters came at the end of a 13-play, 70-yard, second-quarter drive during which Huntley attempted just two passes.

One of them, a leaping 6-yard completion by wide receiver Demarcus Robinson on third-and-goal, ended the Ravens’ touchdown-less streak at 135 minutes, 8 seconds. It was also the first touchdown catch by a Ravens wide receiver since Week 3. Huntley barged his way into the end zone for the 2-point conversion and a 14-0 lead with just over two minutes left.

The Ravens otherwise relied on their defense and special teams to spot them a 14-3 halftime advantage. One of Atlanta’s longest plays of the first half, a 22-yard completion from Ridder to London on fourth-and-2 in the second quarter, ended with a turnover, as cornerback Marlon Humphrey punched the ball out and Queen recovered it and returned it to the Ravens’ 30.

An intentional-grounding call on Ridder pushed the Falcons back from the edge of the goal line in the final minute, leading to a field goal, but the Ravens could’ve had more themselves. Two red-zone drives ended with field goals by kicker Justin Tucker, and he had a 55-yarder blocked, his second field goal stopped at the line of scrimmage in as many weeks.

This story will be updated.



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