Huntley, Ravens beat Falcons 17-9, secure playoff spot
BALTIMORE (AP) — As coach John Harbaugh discussed Baltimore’s victory over Atlanta, a television in the back of the news conference room was showing the Cincinnati-New England game.
When the Bengals finally sealed their victory, Harbaugh’s Ravens were assured of a postseason spot.
“Are we?” Harbaugh asked before receiving confirmation. “Oh, OK. It feels great. Yeah, great. Good. Congratulations to our guys. To clinch the playoffs with two games left is pretty remarkable. It’s not something that’s done too often.”
Tyler Huntley threw a first-half touchdown pass, and the Baltimore defense kept the Falcons out of the end zone in Saturday’s 17-9 win. The Ravens (10-5) won for the second time in three games without quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has been out with a knee injury.
Baltimore won’t have to worry about a repeat of last season, when Jackson was injured and the Ravens ended up dropping their final six games to miss the postseason. The Bengals’ victory, however, came with one drawback: It kept Cincinnati a game ahead of Baltimore atop the AFC North.
Atlanta (5-10), which entered just a game behind first-place Tampa Bay in the NFC South, was eliminated from playoff contention.
Gus Edwards ran for 99 yards and J.K. Dobbins rushed for 59 for Baltimore. Huntley’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson in the second quarter was the first TD catch by a Ravens wide receiver since Week 3.
Huntley ran for a 2-point conversion that put the Ravens up 14-0 — and Baltimore’s defense has allowed more than 14 points in a game just once since the start of November. On Saturday, the Ravens held the Falcons without a touchdown on four red-zone trips.
“It was good Ravens football,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “Shout-out to the defense who had a great game. Special teams and all that. But when you get a day like this, cold weather and adverse conditions, any time you come out victorious, it’s a good win.”
Atlanta has lost four straight — including rookie QB Desmond Ridder’s first two starts — and six of seven. Ridder went 22 of 33 for 218 yards.
“I thought Desmond took another step against a pretty good defense,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “But at the end of the day, we didn’t win situational football. Baltimore did. That’s why they walked away with a win right there.”
The temperature at kickoff was 17 degrees, the lowest for a home game in franchise history. Although both teams were expected to rely on the run instead of their shaky passing games, Huntley did connect with Sammy Watkins for 40 yards and Andrews for 36. Those two drives both ended in field goals, and the Ravens led 6-0.
Atlanta went for it on fourth down near midfield, and Ridder found Drake London for a gain of 20. But Marlon Humphrey forced a fumble at the end of that play, and the Ravens took over at their own 30.
“I thought I did everything I could possibly do to secure the catch. Tried to put two hands on it,” London said. “But that’s Marlon Humphrey, one of the better cornerbacks in the league. He just punched it out.”
Baltimore then ran the ball on the first 11 plays of the ensuing drive, which ended with Huntley’s short touchdown pass.
The Ravens caught a break near the end of the first half. On first-and-goal from the 1, Ridder was called for intentional grounding — it appeared he was hit as he threw — for a loss of 13. The Falcons settled for a field goal.
On the first possession of the second half, a holding call on receiver Olamide Zaccheaus nullified a touchdown by Cordarrelle Patterson, and Atlanta kicked a field goal again.
Down 17-6 in the fourth, the Falcons had first-and-goal from the 4, but four straight runs were stopped short of the end zone. Tyler Allgeier was unable to convert on fourth down from the 1.
Atlanta pulled within eight on a field goal with 2:03 remaining, but the Falcons had let so much time run off that the kickoff brought the clock down to the two-minute warning. Atlanta did have two timeouts remaining, but the Ravens were able to get a first down and close out the win.
The Ravens have outrushed their opponent in 14 straight games, a franchise record. This time the margin was 184-115.
In addition to Jackson, the Ravens were without DE Calais Campbell (knee) and CB Marcus Peters (calf). … Atlanta TE Feleipe Franks was evaluated for a head injury.
Falcons: Host Arizona next Sunday.
Ravens: Host Pittsburgh next Sunday.
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