NFL Nation: 2012 Divisional Rapid Reaction Texans-Ravens
January, 15, 2012
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
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.
January, 15, 2012
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
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 he finished 14-of-27 for 184 yards. He didn't get much help from his teammates. There were five drops by receivers. He was also 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.
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