Lamar Jackson isn't only Raven who deserves praise after offensive outburst

Quarterback Lamar Jackson isn't the only one who deserves credit for the Baltimore Ravens' Divisional Round win over the Houston Texans on Saturday.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens finished the 2023 regular season with the best record in the entire NFL. With a 13-4 record, the team clinched the No. 1 seed, a first-round bye, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. But, this was a Ravens team that hasn't made it past the Divisional Round since 2012, which was the last time the team made it to the Super Bowl.

On Saturday, the Ravens defeated the No. 4 Houston Texans 34-10 in the Divisional Round to advance to the AFC Championship Game. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was the hero of the game, as he threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns while running for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. A four-touchdown performance in a playoff game will certainly help Jackson's MVP case. Not only that, but it helped the Ravens escape a first-half scare and pull away from the Texans.

While Jackson deserves the praise, so does the defense. As The MMQB's Albert Breer points out, the defense helped the team hold Houston's offense to 10 points in the first half and just 51 yards in the entire second half!

Ravens defense deserves credit for Divisional Round win over Texans

When the Ravens offense struggled to get much going through the first two quarters, the defenders did their best to keep the Texans out of the end zone. Despite rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud leading the team 162 yards downfield for the first two quarters, he only had 10 points to show for it. Then, the second half happened.

This was a great game plan for not only head coach John Harbaugh but also defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. Heading into the playoffs, the Ravens defense allowed 301.4 yards (sixth-fewest) and 16.5 points (fewest in NFL). Oh, and Baltimore led the entire NFL with 60 sacks.

With how well the Ravens' defense performed, Macdonald is receiving serious interest for various head coaching opportunities. So far, Macdonald got interview requests from the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Commanders. If the defense continues to shine in the playoffs, Macdonald's stock will only increase.

Now, the Ravens will play the winner of the Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs game in the AFC Championship Game. When looking back at the 2023 season for the Ravens, you have to give credit to Jackson and the defense as a whole for taking them within one win of reaching Super Bowl 58.

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