BALTIMORE – In the “Charm City,” the Titans’ plan worked like a charm.
And they moved one step closer to playing for the crown jewel.
A big underdog playing on the road against the AFC’s No.1 seed, the Titans took the fight to the Ravens here on Saturday night and walked out of M&T Bank Stadium with a swagger, and a 28-12 win.
“No one gave this team a chance,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “It was all Ravens, Ravens, Ravens. But we believed in one another. We believed in ourselves, as a team. It feels great to take care of business. Now we get to keep playing.”
With the victory, the Titans advanced into the AFC Championship Game for the first time since the 2002 season. They’ll face the winner of Sunday’s Kansas City-Houston game on the road next Sunday for the chance to play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
“My emotions are crazy right now, it is unbelievable,” defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. “I’ve waited a long time for this. Now we are headed to the AFC Championship Game and we have to take that mindset that no one can stop us now.”
Saturday night’s victory served as some payback for previous playoff losses to the Ravens. At the end of the 2000 and 2008 seasons, the top-seeded Titans were knocked out of the playoffs by the Ravens.
But in this year’s postseason, the Ravens are nevermore. Their season ends after a 14-2 season in which they had an NFL-high 12 players voted to the Pro Bowl. They’d won 12 straight games before Saturday’s loss to the Titans
The Titans took control of this one early.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes, and he also ran for one, in a game the Titans led 14-0 early.
Running back Derrick Henry ran for 195 yards on 30 carries – and he also threw a touchdown pass.
Henry became the first player in NFL history to post three straight 180-yard rushing games.
“I just focused on doing my job, and trying to finish runs,” Henry said. “This team believes in each other, no matter what is thrown at us. We just have to keep pushing, keep finishing.”
During their fast start, the Titans made some big plays early on offense, and defense. And it continued all night.
“The players came in here in a hostile environment, and did what we talked about,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “We knew we were going to get on a plane a few weeks ago and as long as we kept winning, we were going to keep getting on that plane. We are going to do the same thing this week. We are going to continue to improve, not let complacency set in, and not be excited about winning (this game). We are going to play in the AFC Championship Game, but we have to continue to improve. The teams that do that, they keep playing. The team’s that don’t, they make offseason plans.”