AFC championship game: Fireworks early in MVP showdown

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 20: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens scores an 8 yard touchdown against the Houston Texans during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 20, 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.

Live25 updates

  • 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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