Sunday, January 15, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Ravens 20, Texans 13
By Paul Kuharsky
BALTIMORE -- Thoughts on the Texans’ 20-13 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium:
What it means: The Texans blew a gigantic opportunity to get to the AFC Championship Game. Although they outplayed the Ravens for much of the afternoon, they didn’t do enough to overcome two early mistakes and paid the price. T.J. Yates had the Texans in good position for a drive that could have forced overtime, but he threw a jump ball for Andre Johnson that was picked by Ed Reed just before the two-minute warning. The sting and regret will last a good while, but the season will be rated a giant success once we look at it from a broader perspective.
What I didn’t like: Houston committed two early gaffes that would have killed a lot of teams given the setting. Jacoby Jones foolishly misplayed a punt that the Ravens recovered, and Yates threw a bad interception to Lardarius Webb. Baltimore turned both takeaways deep in the Houston end into touchdowns. Yates wound up with three interceptions.
What I liked: The pass rush on Joe Flacco was a constant source of trouble for Baltimore. He was sacked five times, including three times by rookie end J.J. Watt in the second half. Flacco felt the heat even on the rare occasion when there was not any, but the Ravens' protection scheme was often overmatched. Johnson had 111 receiving yards, and Arian Foster had 132 rushing yards.
What I wonder: Why doesn’t Kareem Jackson turn his head or play the ball? A couple of completions from Flacco to Anquan Boldin came on excellent throws into small windows with Jackson in close coverage. If he’d turned as the ball arrived, he’d have had chances to break up a play.
What I also wonder: If Matt Schaub and Mario Williams played in these playoffs, where would the Texans be standing?
What’s next: An offseason with reset expectations for a team that’s likely the favorite to repeat as AFC South champ and be a popular Super Bowl pick. There is a big decision ahead on Williams’ contract situation. There will be a lot of rehab for Schaub, who’s recovering from foot surgery.