Third and six. Joe Flacco throws downfield to the right side, but throws it out of bounds and out the reach of Breshad Perriman. The Ravens offense looked a mess, and the small crowd was out of the game.
Then Sam Koch happened.
The Ravens lined up for a punt, but instead of Sam Koch booting the ball deep, he kept it, and threw to the left side in the direction of Chris Moore. Moore made the catch for a 22 yard gain and a Ravens first down. More importantly, the Ravens had a spark.
At the time of the fake punt, Baltimore trailed 7-0 to the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Koch’s pass to Moore changed the game, and gave the Ravens the boost they needed to go on and win the game 23-16.
Just two plays later, Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen was given a carry which he took the right side, and into a pile. The pile pushed forward, all the way into the end zone. The play would be reviewed, and upheld. Baltimore tied the game at seven.
On the ensuing Texans drive, quarterback Tom Savage threw into double coverage, and Tony Jefferson came up with his first interception of the year.
The Ravens capitalized, needing just five plays to drive 46 yards and score on an eight yards Alex Collins touchdown run. Baltimore now led 14-7, a lead they would never relinquish.
The defense did start the game slowly, allowing the Texans to drive effectively and score on their opening possession. Penalties were a big issue throughout the game, but a Terrell Suggs sack in the first quarter (one of two total he had) turned the defense around, and the unit began to dominate.
Baltimore scored on its final three drives of the first half, and went into halftime with a 17-10 lead.
The Ravens defense bent multiple times in the second half, as Jimmy Smith showed no ability to stop DeAndre Hopkins (seven catches for 125, and a number of forced pass interference calls). However, every time the Texans drove deep into Ravens territory, the defense made a stand, and forced Houston to field goals.
The Ravens offense had been aggressive in the first half, going for it on fourth down multiple times, and taking deep shots. With a lead in the second half, the Ravens play calling returned to its conservative nature, and the Ravens offense lost all the momentum it once had. The Ravens scored nothing in the third quarter, but kicked two field goals in the fourth (Tucker hit all three of his field goal attempts with a long of 53 yards).
The Texans hung around in the second half, spending most of the half down by just one possession. Late in the fourth quarter, the crowd was out of the game yet again, but the defense needed a play to seal the game.
None other than Terrell Suggs stepped up.
Suggs came off the edge, and strip sacked Tom Savage from behind. The Ravens would recover the fumble and take over. The Ravens took advantage by kicking a field goal to extend the lead to seven, but gave the Texans one more chance.
This time, it was Anthony Levine Sr. that made a big play. Levine Sr. picked off Tom Savage, sealing the win for the Ravens.
Baltimore ran off the rest of the clock, and won the 23-16.
It was the same story for the Ravens yet again as the defense and special teams made big plays, but the offense didn’t. The Ravens were outgained by the Texans. Flacco threw for just 141 yards and no touchdowns.
If not for the Sam Koch fourth down conversion (a special teams play), and big plays made in the second half (the defense), the Ravens would not have won this game.
On defense, Terrell Suggs had two sacks for the second straight week. C.J. Mosley left the game and entered concussion protocol, but came back quickly. Mosley led the Ravens with 12 tackles. The Ravens pass rush outside of Suggs struggled, but the team did have six tackles for loss.
Despite the Ravens defense playing well overall, they could not find an answer to DeAndre Hopkins. No matter who covered Hopkins, including Jimmy Smith, Hopkins had his way. The Ravens secondary came into the NFL ranked second in yards allowed, but they couldn’t contain Houston’s star receiver.
The Ravens also had seven penalties for 89 yards. The team survived, but the penalties must be limited.
The Ravens improve to 6-5 with the win, and slide into the AFC’s sixth seed. Next week, the Ravens have a tough test as Matthew Stafford and the Lions come to Baltimore.