Sunday, January 15, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Ravens 20, Texans 13
By Jamison Hensley
BALTIMORE -- Thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 20-13 win over the Houston Texans in the divisional playoff game:
What it means: It was an ugly and unimpressive win by the second-seeded Ravens, especially on offense. But Baltimore stepped up when it needed to do so, converting 17 points off three Texans turnovers. The Ravens improved to 9-0 at home and won a playoff game in Baltimore for the first time in 11 years. This also marked the fourth straight season that Baltimore has won a postseason game.
Coming up big: Cornerback Lardarius Webb became the third Ravens player to make two interceptions in a postseason game. His first one led to a touchdown in the first quarter, and his second one turned the momentum in the fourth. Ed Reed picked off Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates in the final two minutes of the game for the fourth forced turnover by Baltimore.
Flacco struggles: Joe Flacco threw two touchdowns but finished 14-of-27 for 184 yards. He didn't get much help from his teammates. There were five drops by receivers. He also was sacked five times. His counterpart, Yates, was 17-of-35 for 175 yards and three interceptions.
Getting run down: The Ravens' usually stout run defense showed major cracks against Houston. Arian Foster ran for 132 yards and one touchdown to become the first running back to gain more than 100 yards against the Ravens in 16 playoff games. The most rushing yards that Baltimore had given up to one running back was 91 against Eddie George in January 2001.
Critical call: Leading by four points (17-13) late in the third quarter, the Ravens decided to go for the touchdown instead of settling for the field goal at the 1-yard line. Ray Rice chose to drive into the middle of the line rather than leap and got stopped short. It ultimately didn't hurt Baltimore.
Converting on mistakes early: The Ravens jumped out to a 17-3 first-quarter lead because they converted two turnovers into two Flacco touchdown passes. A fumble on a punt return (deep in Texans territory) led to a 1-yard Flacco touchdown pass to blocking tight end Kris Wilson, and a Yates interception resulted in a 10-yard scoring pass from Flacco to Anquan Boldin.
What's next: The Ravens advance to their second AFC Championship Game in four seasons. Baltimore plays at top-seeded New England next Sunday at 3 p.m.