The Baltimore Ravens rebounded from a lackluster first half to pull away from the pesky Houston Texans in the 4th quarter and go onto their third win in a row to move to 4-1 and remain in first place in the AFC North. Down 14-13 late in the third quarter, the Ravens responded with 16 unanswered points to win in a game much closer than the final score indicated.
Houston constantly seemed on the verge of being stopped time and time again, but they kept on converting third and long all afternoon until crunch time, when the Ravens defense clamped down. Houston QB Matt Schaub didn't have a great final stat line, but his patience in the pocket paid off wen he was able to extend drives but never seemed to show anything for it, as the Texans only score in the first half was on a short drive off of a Joe Flacco fumble.
Speaking of Flacco, while it appeared for way more than half of the game that he was floundering and not in sync with his receivers, he broke out in a big way in the 2nd half, finishing with over 300 yards passing for the second time in three games. Two long completions of 56 and 51 yards certainly helped, as both set up Billy Cundiff for two of his five field goals on the day.
Ray Rice also kept gashing the Texans run defense, with FB Vonta Leach opening up big holes for his 29th 100 yard game since his rookie year, the most in the NFL during that span. WR Anquan Boldin earned his paycheck as Flacco's favorite target on the day with 8 receptions for 132 yards, including that 56 yard bomb. Rookie WR Torrey Smith needed to prove his big game against the St. Louis Rams was not a fluke and he also came through with five catches for 84 yards and the other deep pass for 51 yards.
Despite giving up the lead in the third quarter when Ed Reed was beaten for a 32 yard touchdown pass, the Ravens still held the Texans to their league-leading defensive average of 14 points per game. All-Pro running back Arian Foster gained 49 yards and the defense gave up 90 rushing yards to Foster and Ben Tate, but those two paid for every yard by getting slammed to the ground by the Ravens physical defense.
Twice in the games waning moments the Ravens defense held on fourth down, the first time, resulting in a Ray Rice rushing TD and the second time ending with the fifth and final record-tying FG by Cundiff. Another win for Baltimore keeps them ahead of the 4-2 Pittsburgh Steelers, who squeaked by the Jacksonville Jaguars and the surprising Cincinnati Bengals, who beat the Indianapolis Colts to stick with the Steelers in 2nd place in the AFC North at 4-2.
The Ravens are off next Sunday, as they travel to play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football a week from tomorrow. More about this game to follow shortly.