- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: It certainly wasn't pretty. But Baltimore bounced back to beat Houston after an emotional loss last week to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens blew a 21-point lead in the second half to allow Houston to force overtime. But cornerback Josh Wilson returned a 12-yard interception off Texans quarterback Matt Schaub for the game-winning touchdown. Wilson's play made up for the late, controversial touchdown he allowed earlier this season in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons. At 9-4, the Ravens currently hold the No. 5 seed in the AFC and remain one game behind Pittsburgh (10-3) in the AFC North division. Baltimore hasn't lost two games in a row all season and improved to 5-4 in regular-season games since 2007 after playing Pittsburgh the week prior.
What I liked: Wilson's pick-six was the biggest play of the season so far for Baltimore, although this game should not have made it to overtime. The Ravens' offense got off to a fast start. The offense was aggressive early and got a touchdown run by Willis McGahee and two touchdown catches by Derrick Mason to give Baltimore a 21-7 lead at halftime. The early lead took some pressure off the defense. There were also no major injuries for Baltimore and several solid individual performances we will get to below.
What I didn't like: Baltimore had a chance to put Houston away in the second half but didn't show a killer instinct. As a result, the Ravens allowed Houston to peck away at the lead and eventually score 21 straight points. Despite a great first half, the Ravens couldn't get anything going on offense in the second half and overtime. Baltimore had several short drives and kept its defense on the field. You could see Ravens defenders were tired in the fourth quarter, as Houston began to earn chunks of yards. The Texans' last two scoring drives went for 99 and 95 yards. The Ravens' pass protection for quarterback Joe Flacco also was shaky for the second straight week, as Houston registered five sacks.
Reed makes history: Ravens rookie David Reed, who had an interesting week, delivered a big play for Baltimore to start the second half. A fifth-round pick from Utah, Reed had the longest kickoff return in Ravens history for a 103-yard touchdown to give the Ravens a 21-point lead. He broke multiple tackles by Houston to get to the end zone. According to reports, authorities raided Reed’s home last week to "investigate potential narcotics activities," police said; at this point, no charges have been filed. Baltimore made the decision to play Reed this week and it paid dividends.
Suggs still sizzling: Baltimore linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs registered at least one sack for the fifth time in six games. Suggs recorded a sack against Schaub in addition to four tackles. Coming off a down year in 2009, Suggs now is playing at a Pro Bowl level and leads the Ravens with 10 sacks.
Kicking game stellar: Baltimore's kicking game continues to excel. Punter Sam Koch pinned Houston inside the 20 five times and kicker Billy Cundiff also added two more touchbacks. Cundiff has 36 touchbacks this season.
What's next: With a short week of preparation, Baltimore has a very tough game upcoming against the New Orleans Saints (10-3) at M&T Bank Stadium. Monday's key win takes some of the pressure off the Ravens for this big game. But they need to play much better for four quarters to beat the defending Super Bowl champions.