Perhaps it was the week off. Perhaps it was the cold weather. Whatever the reason, the Ravens looked disjointed in the first half, scoring just 10 points and inflicting hundreds of thousands of fans with agita.

But then halftime came and the real Ravens came back from the locker room.

Maybe all they needed was a little Jimmy Eat World performance to pump them up.

Here’s how the Ravens’ position groups graded out in the team’s 34-10 win over the Texans in the divisional round.

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs down the field during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Lamar Jackson’s legs may be the best “Get Out of Jail Free” card in the NFL. Almost every time the Texans’ linebackers vacated the middle of the field, Jackson took the green grass in front of him. On several designed runs, such as the one Todd Monken called on second-and-10 from the Texans’ 15-yard line in the third quarter, Jackson slithered past would-be tacklers to pick up crucial yardage. He finished with four total touchdowns: two passing and two rushing. As unfair as it has been to saddle Lamar with the Ravens’ playoff failures of the last five years, he deserves immense credit for willing his team to the AFC championship game for the first time in his career.

Grade: A

Running backs

Baltimore Ravens running back Dalvin Cook (31) runs down the field during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

In the first meeting between these teams in Week 1, J.K. Dobbins made several impressive plays, leaping into the end zone for the team’s first score of the season. Though the Ravens haven’t had that kind of explosiveness from their running backs since – with the exception of a midseason boost from rookie Keaton Mitchell – they’ve gotten just enough from Gus Edwards and Justice Hill to get by. Edwards and Hill struggled in the first half, running for 4.1 yards per carry, but they picked it up after halftime. Their contributions were especially notable on a pair of back-to-back seven-minute touchdown drives to put the game away in the third and fourth quarters. Even new addition Dalvin Cook got into the action, ripping off a 19-yard run.

Grade: B

Offensive line

Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley blocks Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard to spring Lamar Jackson on his second touchdown run. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Right from the jump, the Texans employed an aggressive game plan, blitzing Jackson often. The Ravens’ guards did not hold up particularly well, as both Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson allowed the pressure to reach Jackson, who was sacked three times in the first half. But they fared much better after the break, allowing Jackson time to throw and paving the way for a stronger rushing attack.

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Grade: C+

Pass catchers

Ravens wide Nelson Agholor scored the game's first touchdown. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

It was another group effort by a Ravens receiver room that has lacked a true No. 1 all season. Zay Flowers led the way with four catches for 41 yards, and Nelson Agholor grabbed a second-quarter touchdown pass from Jackson. As the return of Mark Andrews looms, tight end Isaiah Likely continues to show he deserves to be a part of the offense even after the three-time Pro Bowler comes back. Likely showed off his jump-ball ability by snatching a fourth-quarter touchdown pass out of the air, putting the Ravens up 14 points.

Grade: B-

Defensive line

Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike prepares for the game in the cold Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Baltimore’s strong front seven made its presence known against the run more than the pass. The Texans picked up just 14 yards on the ground in the first half. This didn’t get much better for Houston running back Devin Singletary, who finished with just 22 yards. Amazingly, a Ravens defense that led the league in sacks during the regular season couldn’t get home against a weak Texans offensive line, but Baltimore forced numerous false starts and got pressure on quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Grade: B

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Inside linebackers

The Ravens have been burned by tight ends a few times this season, most notably when San Francisco’s George Kittle went for 126 yards against them on Christmas Day. Texans tight end Dalton Schultz flashed early, snatching three passes for 30 yards in the first half. After that, Schultz caught just two balls for 13 yards. Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith were a large part of the effort to bottle him up. As has been the case for many of the Ravens’ games this season, Queen and Smith led the team in tackles, combining for 12.

Grade: B+

Defensive backs

Down star cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore relied heavily on Ronald Darby and Brandon Stephens to cover top receiver Nico Collins. But this was familiar territory for the Ravens, who were without Humphrey for seven regular-season games. Collins made some nice catches near the end of the first half, but he finished with just four catches for 58 yards. Stroud completed just 19 of 33 passes for 175 yards, looking like a rookie for the first time in weeks.

Grade: A-

Special teams

This was a game to forget for Jordan Stout. In the first quarter, Stout booted his shortest punt of the season, just 24 yards. Then his second-quarter kick to Steven Sims was returned to the end zone, thanks in part to Stout’s missed tackle. Still, there were positives from the rest of the special teams unit. Justin Tucker’s 53-yarder in the first quarter was the longest field goal in Ravens postseason history. Devin Duvernay opened the second half by taking the kickoff to the Ravens’ 45-yard line.

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Grade: C+


Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill (43) and head coach John Harbaugh share a laugh together on the sidelines of a playoff game against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium on January 20, 2024.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill (43) and head coach John Harbaugh share a laugh together on the sidelines of a playoff game against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Between the Ravens’ and the Texans’ staffs, there might have been three or four future head coaches on the sidelines Saturday night. Demeco Ryans could very well win Coach of the Year, and Bobby Slowik might become another team’s head coach in a week. But Baltimore’s seasoned head coach and astute coordinators got the better of them, making the halftime adjustments to put the game away. The Ravens scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to start the second half and did not allow a point after the break.

Grade: B+

Lamar’s h8ers

Absolutely silent.

Grade: F

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