AFC South: 2011 Week 6 coverage

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 29, Texans 14

October, 16, 2011
BALTIMORE -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 29-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

What it means: The Texans lost their second game in a row, and the enthusiasm over their 3-1 record seems so, so long ago now that they’re 3-3. They’re out of first place in the AFC South because the 3-2 Titans had the week off.

What I didn’t like: Joe Flacco is hardly the best quarterback the Texans will see, but twice in the second half, the Texans allowed deep completions. Torrey Smith caught a 51-yard ball over Kareem Jackson and Anquan Boldin grabbed a 56-yard throw. On the first a defender was bearing down on Flacco, on the second he got hit by Antonio Smith. The Texans can ill afford to give up such plays, and they cause some flashbacks to last year.

What I liked: Both of those big gainers didn’t result in touchdowns. The Texans stopped Baltimore from getting in the end zone, forcing field goals that allowed them to stay within a score.

What else I didn’t like: After those big pass plays and field goals, the Ravens managed to get Ray Rice going. His 27-yard run set up a Ricky Williams touchdown that made it 26-14 with 4:01 left. A 12-point deficit with one timeout remaining against the Ravens on the road is a tall order. The offense failed to find the sort of big plays it needed to keep up when it needed them. Andre Johnson sure could have helped.

What’s next: The Texans head for Nashville and a big AFC South matchup with the division lead on the line. Tennessee is coming off a bye. Will Johnson return from the hamstring injury that has cost him two games?

Wrap-up: Bengals 27, Colts 17

October, 16, 2011
Thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts’ 27-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium:

What it means: The Colts remain winless, falling to 0-6. They had a fourth-quarter chance to pull even, but Adam Vinatieri's 52-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Nate Clements. Then Reggie Nelson forced a fumble by Pierre Garcon, and the Bengals got a 35-yard touchdown return by Carlos Dunlap to pull out of range.

What I didn’t like: Tight end Dallas Clark has suffered as much as anyone without Peyton Manning. But his first-quarter fumble, when he was stripped by the Bengals, set up Cincinnati for the game’s opening touchdown and had nothing to do with the quarterback. Clark did bounce back with a nice fourth-quarter catch on the right boundary and a 1-yard TD catch.

What I liked: Delone Carter took some carries and ran with the sort of authority the Colts drafted him for, converting a couple of short-yardage situations. And Donald Brown had a nice 18-yard touchdown run on a day when the Colts ran the ball reasonably well -- totaling 94 yards and 4.1 yards a carry.

Stat of note: The Colts turned the ball over three times and didn’t take it away once.

What’s next: The Colts head for New Orleans and play a rematch of Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints aren’t far off from the team that won that game, while the Colts aren’t even a shell of the AFC champions of two seasons ago.

Wrap-up: Steelers 17, Jaguars 13

October, 16, 2011
Thoughts on the Jaguars’ 17-13 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field:

What it means: There sure is a hopeless feeling around the Jaguars, who couldn’t really do a thing against the Steelers early on, falling behind 17-0. They rallied only to fall short. They just aren’t able to get a good 60-minute effort, and they now stand 1-5 with a five-game losing streak.

What I didn’t like: Rashean Mathis wound up in a lot of tough situations and didn’t fare well. The cornerback got beat by Mike Wallace on a well-placed touchdown pass. His failures weren’t only in coverage, though. He couldn’t angle to running back Rashard Mendenhall on a touchdown run and then got stiff-armed by the back in what seemed like a half-hearted effort to get to him during a career-best 68-yard run.

What I liked, at times: Blaine Gabbert rarely had time, but he stood in as he got hit and delivered an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jason Hill in the third quarter. It capped a long, time-consuming drive and closed the score to 17-10 despite how badly the Jaguars had been outplayed. He had a nifty scramble to convert one third-and-2. He wound up sacked five times and hurried and hit on plenty of other snaps. Hardly quality conditions for a rookie quarterback to succeed.

Significant stat: The Steelers ran for 185 yards and 5.8 yards per carry.

What’s next: The Jaguars get the national spotlight when "Monday Night Football" rolls in to Jacksonville to see them host the Baltimore Ravens. Will people be compelled to look away?