Sunday, January 15, 2012
Ravens, as always, win with defense
AP Photo/Nick WassIt wasn’t easy, but the Baltimore Ravens found their way back to the AFC Championship Game, with a 20-13 win over the Houston Texans.
T.J. Yates didn't have the same kind of success he had against the Bengals on Sunday
Though the Ravens scored 17 first-quarter points, they had to survive a last-second attempt at a game-tying Hail Mary to prevail. Per usual at this time of year, the Ravens won largely on the strength of their defense.
Let’s take a closer look at the statistical highlights.
How the Ravens won
The Ravens had three interceptions against Texans quarterback T.J. Yates.
Ed Reed has the last of the three interceptions, the eighth postseason pick of his career. That’s tied for fourth-most in NFL history, but only one shy of the NFL record.
Lardarius Webb had the other two interceptions. He’s the third player in Ravens history with a multi-interception game in the playoffs, joining Reed (twice) and Duane Starks (once)
Since 2000, nine teams have won playoff games gaining fewer than 250 yards of offense. The Ravens have done so five of the nine times, including Sunday, when they managed 227 yards.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco played well enough to win, succeeding early against the Texans aggressive pass rush.
Flacco faced at least five pass rushers on 20 of his 32 dropbacks on Sunday, but completed 11-of-19 passes for 133 yards, and had both of his touchdown passes in such situations. The Texans had held opponents to a below 50-percent completion rate (49.8) and only allowed five touchdown passes in the regular season when sending five or more rushers.
The Texans defense sent extra pass rushers on half of opponent’s dropbacks this season, and continued that trend against Joe Flacco. Flacco faced at least five pass rushers on 20 of his 32 dropbacks on Sunday, and handled the extra pressure more effectively than Houston’s opponents did in the regular season.
The Ravens were not penalized in this game. It was the first game in franchise history the Ravens weren't penalized.
How the Texans lost
The Texans short-passing game, previously effective for Yates at the end of the regular season and in the wild card win against the Cincinnati Bengals, struggled in this contest.
Yates was 10-for-21 for 66 yards on throws that traveled 10 yards or fewer in the air. During the regular season, Yates completed nearly two-thirds of these passes and last week, he was 7-for-11 on those throws, for 61 yards.
When Yates did complete a pass, his receivers did little. They only managed 16 yards after contact. The Texans 62 total yards after contact were their second-fewest of the season. The only game in which they were worse was in a Week 6 loss to the Ravens when they had 60.
Houston entered the game averaging 97 yards after contact per game, second-best in the NFL.
Stats of the Day
Flacco won a playoff game for the fifth time. Via the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the fourth quarterback to win at least five playoff games in his first four seasons, along with Tom Brady (six), Ben Roethlisberger (five) and Kurt Warner (five).
Elias also noted that Ravens coach John Harbaugh became the first NFL coach to win a playoff game in each of his first four seasons as an NFL coach. Harbaugh and former Cowboys coach Barry Switzer were the only ones to do so in three such seasons, prior to Sunday.
In defeat, Texans running back Arian Foster ran for 132 yards. His 285 rushing yards are the most of anyone in their first two games in postseason history. That broke the mark of 278, set by Duane Thomas for the 1970 Dallas Cowboys.
The Ravens are 1-6 all-time against the New England Patriots. The only win came in the 2009 AFC Wild Card Playoffs