AFC championship game: Fireworks aplenty in MVP showdown

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 28: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens is pressured by Drue Tranquill #23 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Championship Game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 28, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Baltimore Ravens are somewhere they haven’t been in 11 years: the AFC Championship game. And the last time they went that far, they went all the way and won the Super Bowl.

But that was the 2012 season. Quarterback Lamar Jackson didn’t come along until 2019, and his Ravens have never been this far. This will be his first conference championship game. But anyone questioning whether he can handle the pressure hasn’t been watching him lately. Jackson is cold as ice. He ripped into his teammates last week at halftime against the Texans, challenging them to play better. And they all met that challenge.

They’ll need all of that mettle when they face the Kansas City Chiefs. It hasn’t been a flawless season (or postseason) for Patrick Mahomes and crew, but their victory over the Buffalo Bills last week shows anything can happen as long as you keep the score close. And we know they can do that.

Which team will come out on top? Follow along as Yahoo Sports provides the latest news, scores and highlights from the NFL playoffs.

Live31 updates

  • Chiefs, Ravens each come up with defensive stops for the first two punts of the day. Baltimore has the ball back, trailing 14-7 with 2:47 remaining in the half and pressure to score.

  • Just some ridiculous, high-level football on both sides so far. Game’s more than living up to its billing.

  • Unreal. Lamar Jackson catches his own batted pass and takes it for a 13-yard gain. First down.

  • The Chiefs gamble on fourth-and-a foot after a third down pass from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce is stopped just short of the sticks. Isaiah Pacheco runs, and Baltimore’s defense comes up with a huge stop in the red zone. Kansas City comes away with zero points after securing a takeaway in Ravens territory.

  • We have the game’s first turnover. Charles Omenihu strip-sacks Lamar Jackson in Baltimore territory, and George Karlaftis jumps on the ball for a Chiefs takeaway. Kansas City now has a chance to extend its 14-7 lead with excellent field position. Potentially game-changing play.

  • Two Chiefs possessions, two Chiefs touchdowns. Isaiah Pacheco punches it in from two yards to give Kansas City a 14-7 lead. The drive traveled 75 yards on 16 plays and took 9:02 off the clock. Baltimore’s defense is getting worn down early.

  • Wow. Unreal third-down connection from Mahomes to Kelce. These guys are dealing.

  • Eleven straight completions for Patrick Mahomes before he tossed his first incomplete pass. What a bum.

  • Yeah, it feels personal for the Ravens too.

  • Wow. Now Lamar Jackson shows off his arm. Finds Zay Flowers with a 30-yard touchdown bomb after escaping the Kansas City pass rush. 7-7 early, and both quarterbacks are dealing.

  • Ravens lean on — who else? — Lamar Jackson on fourth-and-1 in their own territory. He delivers with a first down and much more.

  • Chiefs acting like they’ve been here before. Vintage Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce on that scoring drive. Mahomes was 5-for-5 for 57 yards. Kelce had three catches for 37 yards, including that 19-yard TD. One notable fan approved of the drive:

  • Mahomes and Kelce have now connected for 17 postseason touchdowns. This one was an opening-drive statement against a Ravens defense that didn’t allow a first-half touchdown to the Texans last week.

  • Great start for Chiefs’ defense, forcing a three-and-out on the Ravens’ opening possession.

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