Ravens knock off Texans, advance to AFC championship game
BALTIMORE — It was fittingly symbolic that veteran middle linebacker Ray Lewis helped hoist Ed Reed into the air late in the fourth quarter, providing a lift when the free safety was hobbled and unable to walk off the field.
Reed twisted his left ankle while knocking down a desperation pass into the end zone, sealing the victory and also triggering some pain one series after he intercepted Houston Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates.
It was the Baltimore Ravens' stingy defense that allowed them to salvage a 20-13 AFC divisional playoff win Sunday over the Texans before 71,547 for the largest crowd ever at M&T Bank Stadium, preventing a collapse and sending them to the AFC championship game for the third time in franchise history.
Now, the Ravens (13-4) will square off with the top-seeded New England Patriots next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
"I take my hat off to my team, all of the ups and downs we have been through," said Lewis, who broke out his Super Bowl XXXV championship ring to offer a visual reminder to his younger teammates what they're shooting for this postseason. "For us to have the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl, you can't ask for anything more. We played a very, very tough team. We knew what kind of battle we were in for.
"It's bigger than just reminding them. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to what's it's really about. Sometimes, you go into games and say, 'It's just another playoff game.' Actually, it's not. I know what that moment feels like. To feel that moment again with this team can be a special thing."
The Ravens nearly squandered a 17-3 lead and were clinging to a four-point lead for the majority of the second half, but intercepted Yates three times. Cornerback Lardarius Webb tied a franchise playoff record shared by Reed and Duane Starks by intercepting two passes.
With four turnovers forced, the Ravens were able to withstand the gliding moves of Texans star running back Arian Foster and imposing wide receiver Andre Johnson.
"We feel like we're the big brother of the team, but our offense will get going," said Reed, whose injury isn't regarded as serious. "It's winning by any means necessary. That's what it's got to be."
Reed's interception by the end zone with just under two minutes remaining kept the Texans from potentially scoring a touchdown to tie the game. And Lewis and the defense settled down after Foster ran roughshod over them in the first half for 95 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He finished with 132 yards, but gained only 37 of them after halftime on a dozen carries. He's the first running back to ever rush for 100 yards against Baltimore in the playoffs.
It was a performance practically devoid of style points, but that's nothing strange for the Ravens as they won during their first home playoff game in five seasons.
Still, they committed no turnovers despite some fumbles and weren't even penalized once. "I think it was a Ravens type victory," Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I always say, ‘There's a right way to do things, there's a wrong way to do things and then there's the Ravens' way to do things.' It wasn't really pretty, but, hey, we're not really a pretty team." Criticized in recent weeks for their supposed decline with age with Lewis not playing as, Lewis and Reed both contributed heavily to the win. Lewis recorded eight tackles to lead the defense, tackling Foster for a loss of seven yards. And Reed knocked down four passes, nearly intercepting two more errant throws.
"It's kind of hard to think about Father Time," Lewis said. "I don't have time to think about, ‘when it's time to do this,' or ‘when it's time to do that.' When it's over, it's over. Everybody here has to appreciate that great warriors fight until the end. Those are the stories you'll always remember."
Lewis, 36, and Reed, 33, are both former NFL Defensive Players of the Year.
Although Lewis' range in pass coverage isn't what it was and Reed plays through excruciating pain due to a shoulder problem and a nerve impingement in his neck, they came through one more time in a pivotal game.
"I don't want to say that those guys saved their best for last, but the fact of the matter is those guys are the leaders on our team," said Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who was limited to 60 yards. "And they showed their mettle."
Reed defended himself against recent criticism after intercepting his eighth pass in the playoffs, more than any other active NFL player. "The picks haven't been coming because they don't throw my way as much," Reed said. "I got my hand on two or three before that, and didn't bring them home. It hasn't been like they've been trying in my zone. You've got to watch the football game and understand what's going on. "Like I said, I missed a couple tackles leading up to this game. It happens. It's part of the game. I'm also getting old. At one point, I won't be up here. You'll be interviewing another safety here in Baltimore."
The Texans regained possession with less than a minute remaining. However, they were unable to gain a single first down.
The Ravens shut them down one more time, triggering a raucous celebration in their downtown stadium.
The Ravens won despite gaining only 227 yards of total offense and going scoreless for nearly 45 minutes.
"You win the game no matter what," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That's what it boils down to in a situation like this. This football team won the game no matter what. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but they found a win to win the football game."
The Ravens could have probably put the game away in the third quarter. After wide receiver Lee Evans set the Ravens up with a graceful 30-yard, one-handed reception up the right sideline and offensive guard Ben Grubbs securing a subsequent Rice fumble to take over the football at the Texans' two-yard line, Baltimore got stuffed. Rice rushed for only one yard on third down and then got stopped for no gain by linebacker Tim Dobbins on fourth-and-goal.
The Ravens could have had a seven-point lead with a field goal, but wound up with no points. Asked if it was a difficult decision to go for it, Harbaugh replied: "It wasn't tough at all. It was easy."The Texans weren't easy to handle, though.
Not with rookie defensive end J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Brooks Reed wreaking havoc on the Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher and offensive guard Marshal Yanda for a combined five sacks.
"We can block a little bit better," Harbaugh said. "We need to find a way to get those guys blocked. It's a premier pass rush team, and we didn't do a great job always of blocking." Quarterback Joe Flacco withstood the pressure, delivering two touchdown passes in the first half as the Ravens built a 17-3 lead.
"I thought Joe did a great job under fire," Harbaugh said. "I thought Joe did a really nice job of protecting the ball in the pocket, stepping up and making a couple of throws." Flacco has struggled in the past during his three playoff losses and has bristled about criticism recently. He completed 14 of 27 passes Sunday, throwing two touchdowns with no interceptions. And Lewis gave Flacco a message Saturday night before the game about staying within himself, akin to how he communicated with quarterback Trent Dilfer during the Ravens' Super Bowl season. "Like I told Joe, no one wins games by themselves," Lewis said. "We are in this as a family. We are in this as a team. Nothing on the outside matters. What matters is what we think on the inside of this building and what we feel about him and the confidence we have in him. "Everything else, you can throw out the window. Joe has come in and led us to the playoffs in each of the last four years. If that was anybody else, they would be praising him. Joe Flacco has done a heck of a job getting us into the position to win."
Texans punt returner Jacoby Jones mishandled a 71-yard punt from Sam Koch in the first quarter, getting crushed by cornerback Cary Williams with rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith recovering the fumble at the Texans' three-yard line. Selling a play-action fake, Flacco connected with third-string tight end Kris Wilson for a one-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. It marked the first reception of the season for the journeyman tight end and his first touchdown since catching a13-yard pass for a score in an AFC divisional playoff against the New York Jets in 2009.
"Anytime your number gets called, you can't get too high or too nervous," Wilson said. "You just have to do what you know how to do. It's the same stuff, just stay calm and stay focused and do what you have to do."
Following a 48-yard Billy Cundiff field goal, the Ravens scored their second touchdown on a 10-yard Flacco pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin past cornerback Jason Allen.
Boldin was playing his first game since undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, missing the final two games of the regular season.
Now leading 17-3, the Ravens allowed 10 unanswered points as Neil Rackers hit a 33-yard field goal and Foster punched in a touchdown from one yard out.
The Ravens capped their scoring on a 44-yard field goal with 2:52 remaining to boost their lead to 20-13, ending a nearly 45-minute scoring drought.
Now, the Ravens will begin preparations for an explosive Patriots team headlined by quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. "It's going to be hard-fought," Reed said. "These guys are a great football team. A huge fan of coach Belichick and Brady, he's one of the best to ever play. Somebody's got to win and somebody's got to lose. We're coming, and they know it."
The Ravens will be underdogs next week on the road, not that they mind. "This is all we have been dreaming for," Rice said. "New England is definitely going to be a challenge, but we are up for it." The path to another Super Bowl berth heads through Foxboro, Mass.
"The only reason you play this game is for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl," Lewis said. "We have that opportunity right now. Whatever anybody wants to say about us, we are in position. There are two teams left in the AFC, just us and the Patriots. Next week, that's going to take care of itself."
Ravens head to Foxboro to take on prolific Patriots in AFC title game
BALTIMORE — Ray Rice was watching every moment Saturday night when the New England Patriots obliterated the Denver Broncos. He saw how superstar quarterback Tom Brady carved up the Broncos' secondary for six touchdown passes to tie an NFL playoff record, breaking another one with five scoring tosses in the first half of a 45-10 romp.
Watching the game intently on his hotel television the night before the Ravens' 20-13 victory Sunday over the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium, Rice witnessed how the Patriots ended the dream season of quarterback Tim Tebow. "Denver was the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL, and you saw what they did to them," Rice said. "It's not a surprise that these guys know how to win playoff games. They'll be ready and obviously, how can you not think about the Patriots and know what Tom Brady is doing over there. They're a well-respected opponent, and I'm sure they are over there saying the same things about us."
Now, the Ravens (13-4) advance to the AFC championship game for the third time in franchise history where they'll square off with the Patriots (14-3) next Sunday at Gillette Stadium for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. The Patriots have a prolific offense headlined by Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Wes Welker.
< "We know we have a big test next week," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Tom is playing excellent up there. What they did to the Broncos, I think they sent a strong message to whoever was coming up there. So, we've got our hands full, and we've got to go up and get ready to play in the AFC championship."
The Ravens mustered only 227 yards of total offense against the Texans, allowing five sacks. They struggled in short-yardage situations and Rice was limited to an uncharacteristic 60 rushing yards.
They didn't score a point for nearly 45 minutes after building a 17-3 lead in the first quarter. And now here comes Brady and the Patriots. "They're a big, tough road block that throws a lot of touchdowns passes," strong safety Bernard Pollard said. "Brady is a great player. We all understand what he's been doing. Dude isn't scared to take shots. You look at him throing the ball all over the field. He's got weapons. We've got to be sound and ready to play." Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that his team might need some improvement on offense to compete with the Patriots.
"I think you have to do whatever you have to do to win a football game," Harbaugh said. "I would anticipate against the team we're about to play you have to do a better job offensively in terms of numbers and stats and points of course than we did.
"That's what the humility is all about. We're not looking behind us. We're not looking to either side. We're just looking forward to the next challenge, and that's the one we'll be going after."
The Ravens advanced to the AFC title game three years ago during Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco's first season in Baltimore. The Ravens haven't won a Super Bowl or made it to the game since winning the Vince Lombardi trophy following the 2000 season.
Lewis, 36, is the lone remaining player on the roster from that championship squad. "It's always time to go ahead and win one," Harbaugh said. "That goes for this game and every game, championship game, opener. It's time to go ahead and win."
The top-seeded Patriots lost to the second-seeded Ravens two years ago in the playoffs, falling 33-14 at home.
With Flacco nursing a badly bruised hip and leg, he attempted only 10 passes and completed four for 34 yards and one interception. Rice carried the Ravens that day, rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns that included an 83-yard jaunt on the first play from scrimmage. "We've gone out there and played before," Flacco said. "We have won in New England. They are one of the teams, just like us, that's tough to beat at home. They play very well up there, but we know how tough it is to go into a place like that, a place like here, and win a football game. So we're going to have to make sure we prepare well all week and bring our ‘A' game up there." Especially against Brady. The former NFL and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns this season with only 12 interceptions for a 105.6 quarterback rating.
"He's a great quarterback," Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "When it's all said and done it's going to be Johnny [Unitas], him and Peyton [Manning], end of discussion. We're playing against a phenomenal player, we're playing against a phenomenal team. You can't make that many mistakes or else they're going to expose you." Welker caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season. And Gronkowski flourished with 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"They have real good tight ends, but they've also got real good receivers out there," Reed said. "You got to know who's on the football field at all times, but you've got to cover your guy. Brady doesn't have a favorite target. You've got to cover everybody, and they understand football so much the way they will scheme things. They're going to go back to the years past and understand what we do as a defense and how to try to defeat it."
The Patriots' Achilles heel is their vulnerable defense.
They finished 31st in the league in total defense. Rice emphasized that the Patriots will have to play an excellent game in order to stop the Ravens.
"They have to play their best game, too," Rice said. "If they don't play their best game, they'll get beat. If we don't play our best game, we'll get beat. And that's not taking anything away from them. There's a reason why one and two are playing each other. It's not David and Goliath. We are right up there with them." The Patriots hadn't won a playoff game in three seasons until they ended the Broncos' season Saturday night.
Now, the Ravens want to avoid becoming the Patriots' next victim so they can fulfill their own Super Bowl dreams.
"They're the Patriots," center Matt Birk said. "They're like the New York Yankees, great team, been great for a long time. The road to the ultimate goal for any team is very hard, very difficult and you have to meet all the challenges."
Ravens notebook: Texans wreak havoc with pass rush
BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens raced to a lead, building an advantage of two touchdowns over the Houston Texans by utilizing short fields created by turnovers.
The reality of their offense being overmatched at many junctures would eventually become obvious during a tense 20-13 AFC divisional round playoff victory over the Texans on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens were limited to 227 yards of total offense as quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked five times and Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice was held to a mere 60 yards on 21 carries.
"That was probably the best defense I've seen all year," Rice said. "It was tough sledding and we knew it was going to be a big challenge." The right side of the Ravens' offensive line had no answers for rookie defensive end J.J. Watt and rookie outside linebacker Brooks Reed. They each recorded 2 ½ sacks, combining for 20 tackles as Watt registered a dozen on his own. "Those guys are talented," offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie said. "They ran some stunts and shot through some gaps. We'll watch the film and make our corrections.
The Ravens also got stuffed in key short-yardage situations, failing to score on a fourth-and-goal opportunity.
"I think we can execute better," coach John Harbaugh said. "We can block a little bit better. I thought we ran it up in there pretty good, for the most part. Really good defensive front, linebackers crash up in gaps and things like that. We need to find a way to get those guys blocked. Those are the things were are humbled by, and we have to keep working on it."
REED TWISTS ANKLE: Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed suffered a left ankle injury that caused him to limp off the field after a rough landing following his last pass deflection of the game. Reed emphasized, though that the injury isn't serious. And the team announced that no further testing is scheduled at this time.
"I'll be all right," said Reed, who intercepted a pass and knocked down four passes. "I'll go get treatment and I'll be ready to go. I rolled my ankle, pinched it real bad. I was able to walk off at the end once it was all said and done." Offensive tackle Michael Oher said his knee is fine even though it was wrapped up after the game and he got treatment.
Defensive tackle Arthur Jones sustained a minor leg injury and also received treatment. Inside linebackers Jameel McClain (sprained medial collateral ligament) and Brendon Ayanbadejo (strained right quadriceps), who were listed as questionable heading into kickoff, made it through the game without aggravating their respective injuries.
"On the injuries, we got through OK," Harbaugh said. "We'll have to check on Ed. Apparently, he seems like he's in pretty good shape. The two guys who had the issues that were really nip and tuck before the game were the linebackers, Brendon and Jameel. They got through the game OK."
BIRK DENIES REPORT: Six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk denied a television report from former NFL general manager Charlie Casserly, stating that he would retire after this season.
"It could be 100 percent true or it could be zero percent true, and there's probably no in between," Birk said. "No, I haven't made that decision yet and I don't know Charlie Casserly. I know who he is, but he didn't talk to me and that's all I can say."
Birk, 35, considered retiring prior to this season, but was talked into playing again. The father of six is in the final year of his contract.
"I don't think it's unique for someone in my situation to contemplate it, but I'm just focused on the moment, on the now," Birk said. "I've done it for a while and nothing is guaranteed in this game. You don't know when your last play is going to be, or your last game. After the season, there will be plenty of time to figure out what I'm going to do next year."
CONGRATULATIONS: Both the Harbaugh brothers won their playoff games this weekend. And John Harbaugh congratulated his younger brother, Jim Harbaugh, following the San Francisco 49ers' 36-32 win over the New Orleans Saints.
"We talked last night after the game," John Harbaugh said. "He was pretty happy. I was happy for him, but I couldn't get quite as happy as he was. He was fired up, and I think he was really proud of his team.
"I'm proud of him. I'm proud of Jim. I'm proud of his staff over there, but I haven't been thinking that much about him, to be honest with you." BIG MISTAKE: Texans punt returner Jacoby Jones' fumble of a 71-yard Sam Koch punt cost his team. The fumble recovered by rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith at the Texans' two-yard line led to Flacco's one-yard touchdown pass to reserve tight end Kris Wilson.
"I was really trying to hurry and grab it and get down, but it hit off my face mask, and I let it roll," Jones said. "Of course, I'm upset about it. It's a turnover. That's a play we didn't make, and they went down and scored. The defense played lights-out, and I think that touchdown they scored is off me."
NO PRESSURE: The Ravens never sacked rookie quarterback T.J. Yates.
And he was only hit twice as the Ravens rarely blitzed and didn't generate penetration on a consistent basis with their defensive line. "They got the ball out pretty quick most of the time," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "It was a great game plan for them. They know Yates is a rookie and they probably protected him a little bit with getting the ball out quick. They also did very well with play-action. They did a great job of adjusting and changing up the plays on us."
Ngata acknowledged that the Ravens will need to create more pressure next week in the AFC title game against the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.
"We just have to have a great week of practice and work on getting to the quarterback," Ngata said. "We have to study well and try to get some."
QUICK HITS: The Ravens improved to 9-0 at home this season, winning 19 of their past 20 home games and are 28-5 at home under Harbaugh.
The Ravens scratched cornerback Chris Carr, which was somewhat of a surprise considering he's not injured. ... They also deactivated wide receiver Tandon Doss, cornerback Chykie Brown, running back Anthony Allen, linebacker Josh Bynes, center-guard Justin Boren and linebacker Sergio Kindle.
The Texans deactivated quarterback Jeff Garcia, wide receiver Jeff Maehl, cornerback Brandon Harris, safety Troy Nolan, offensive guard Thomas Austin, offensive tackle Andrew Gardner and tight end Garrett Graham. ... The Ravens improved to 10-6 in the playoffs all-time, including a 2-2 mark at home, 7-4 on the road and 1-0 at a neutral site (Super Bowl XXXV). ... Under Harbaugh, the Ravens are now 5-3 in the playoffs.
The Ravens averaged 26.6 points per game at home and allowed 14.3, outscoring opponents 239-132.
The Ravens had 33 sacks and forced 22 turnovers at home this season, allowing 17 sacks and turning the ball over 11 times for a plus-11 turnover margin. ... Reed now has eight interceptions in 10 playoff games, ranking him as first among active NFL players ahead of Asante Samuel, Antoine Bethea and Brian Dawkins.
Texans running back Arian Foster became the first player to ever rush for 100 yards against the Ravens in the playoffs, gaining 132 yards on 27 carries. The Ravens' previous opponent high for rushing was 91 yards by former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George during a divisional playoff game in 2001 in Nashville. ... The Ravens weren't penalized in the playoff game, a franchise postseason first.
Ravens beat Texans, advance to AFC championship game
BALTIMORE — Pushed to the brink by a talented Houston Texans team brimming with athletic pass rushers and one of the most gifted running backs in the league, the Baltimore Ravens emerged with a victory that propels them into the AFC championship game for the third time in franchise history.
The Ravens (13-4) survived the Texans' comeback attempt to earn a 20-13 win Sunday in an AFC divisional round playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium, which now sends them on the road to square off with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots next week at Gillette Stadium. Here's how the Ravens accomplished their goal and are now positioned one more win from reaching the Super Bowl:
1. The defense settled down in the second half after being repeatedly gashed by Texans Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster, who finished with 132 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries after gaining 95 yards on 15 carries by halftime. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis led the Ravens with eight tackles, dumping Foster for a seven-yard loss. Besides containing Foster after a rough first half, the defense intercepted Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates three times to put the game away.
Cornerback Lardarius Webb intercepted Yates twice, but it was Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed who made the biggest plays of the fourth quarter. Reed picked off a Yates pass intended for wide receiver Andre Johnson over the middle at the Ravens' four-yard line. It's his eighth career interception of the playoffs. And it was Reed who knocked down a Yates Hail Mary pass with 20 seconds remaining on fourth down to give Baltimore the football back for good to run out the clock.
2. The Ravens nearly squandered a 17-3 lead built in the first quarter as they didn't score again until Billy Cundiff connected on a 44-yard field goal with 2:52 remaining in the fourth quarter. Against a stout defense led by rookie defensive end J.J. Watt and linebackers Brian Cushing and Brooks Reed, quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice didn't have stellar games. They were solid, though. Flacco threw two touchdown passes, completing 14 of 27 passes for 176 yards and no interceptions. Rice was limited to 60 yards on 21 carries as Cushing shadowed him all over the field. Watt, though, was practically unblockable. He recorded a game-high 12 tackles and 2½ sacks. The Ravens' offensive line allowed five sacks, including 2½ more by Reed. Creating an early lead, the offense held up its end of the bargain.
3. In his first game back from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin led the Ravens with four receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. Boldin was targeted eight times and was the Ravens' only consistent offensive threat. Meanwhile, third-string tight end Kris Wilson, a journeyman who hadn't caught a pass all season, hauled in a one-yard touchdown catch from Flacco in the first quarter to stake the Ravens to an early 7-3 lead in the first quarter.
Baltimore Ravens' report card By Aaron Wilson
Quarterback: C-plus Joe Flacco endured a fierce pass rush, getting sacked five times. He still managed to play an efficient game, though, completing 14 of 17 passes for 176 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 97.1 quarterback rating. Flacco refused to make mistakes, enabling the offense to withstand relentless pressure to win the game after building an early lead. He'll likely need to play better next Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Running back: D-plus Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice got stonewalled, shut down as he rushed for only 60 yards on 21 carries. There were few holes to roam through and he averaged only 2.9 yards per carry with a long run of nine yards. He caught four passes for 20 yards, so his impact in the open field was nullified for the most part. All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach didn't win most of his collisions with Texans' head-knocking linebacker Brian Cushing. The Ravens got stuffed repeatedly in crucial short-yardage situations.
Receiver: C-plus Anquan Boldin provided the separation and clutch catches to move the chains and got into the end zone once, finishing with four catches for 73 yards in his first game back after undergoing knee surgery. Needing a catch to restore his sagging confidence, Lee Evans turned in an acrobatic 30-yard reception. The tight ends disappeared as Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson combined for three receptions for 43 yards. Rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith dropped a long pass and caught only one pass for 9 yards.
Offensive line: D They were overwhelmed by rookie defensive end J.J. Watt (12 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks) and rookie outside linebacker Brooks Reed (2 1/2 sacks). In particular, the right side of offensive tackle Michael Oher and right guard Marshal Yanda struggled to deal with the raw athleticism and speed of Watt and Reed. They were ultra-successful with swim moves, speed rushes and line stunts.
Defensive line: C It was a quiet game from the defensive line as running back Arian Foster rumbled for 132 yards and a touchdown. Cory Redding, Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody and Brandon McKinney had three tackles apiece. The Texans averaged 4.7 yards per carry.
Linebacker: C-plus Middle linebacker Ray Lewis turned in a respectable game, leading the Ravens with eight tackles. That included one tackle for a loss on Foster, and Lewis nearly intercepted a pass. It was a fairly quiet game for Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Suggs finished with six tackles, but no quarterback hits. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates was only hit twice.
Secondary: A Cornerback Lardarius Webb intercepted rookie quarterback T.J. Yates twice and Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed intercepted him once in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Yates completed only 17 of 35 passes for 184 yards for a 28.8 quarterback rating. He targeted Andre Johnson 15 times, but completed just eight of them for 111 yards. Hard-hitting strong safety Bernard Pollard had five tackles, one for a loss.
Special teams: B Rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith recovered Jacoby Jones' muffed punt to lead to a Baltimore touchdown. Sam Koch avoided pressure to get off his punts, averaging 49.3 yards with one downed inside the 20-yard line with two touchbacks. Kicker Billy Cundiff booted a 44-yard field goal down the middle in the fourth quarter to cap the Ravens' scoring. He also made a 48-yard field goal. The Ravens' worst moment in the kicking game was allowing a 60-yard kickoff return to Danieal Manning.
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