Ravens keep play-off hopes alive with win over Texans
The Baltimore Ravens pulled out a 23-16 win over the Houston Texans after their clash turned into the defensive struggle that was expected on Monday.
The Ravens (6-5) have now won 10 straight primetime games, the longest active streak in the NFL, after their victory at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore also kept their play-off hopes alive, sliding back in as the number six seed in the AFC. Monday's loss was a devastating blow for Houston's play-off aspirations.
After Houston jumped out to a 7-0 lead, the Ravens responded with some trickery. Punter Sam Koch completed a 22-yard pass to Chris Moore to set up Buck Allen's 10-yard touchdown run.
The Texans (4-7) are two back of the Ravens, who now hold a tiebreaker, and Buffalo Bills, and a game back of the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers for the final wild-card spot.
JOE FLACCO IS NO LONGER ELITE
When the best throw of the night was Koch's 22-yard pass to Moore, you know the Ravens have some issues at quarterback. Flacco was 20 of 32 for only 141 yards on Monday. Flacco has regressed since helping to lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl title in 2012. He has 89 touchdown passes and 72 interceptions over the last five seasons. To put that into perspective, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have combined for only 61 interceptions over the same period.
The Ravens did rush for 139 yards against Houston's sixth-ranked rush defense, but were only three of 14 on third-down conversions - largely because of Flacco's inability to complete passes when he had to. Flacco did have a game-ending 25-yard run after the two-minute warning and finished with 42 rushing yards on six carries.
RAVENS' DEFENSE IS OVERRATED
The Texans had seven first downs in the first quarter alone and finished with 20. Baltimore's three shutouts this season came against the Bengals (5-6) in the season opener, Dolphins (4-7) and Packers (5-6), who each had backup quarterbacks. Those offenses currently rank 32nd, 30th and 25th, respectively.
The Texans marched down the field on their opening series, going 90 yards in nine plays and scoring on Lamar Miller's four-yard touchdown run. Baltimore's defense played better following the opening drive, but the Ravens were again facing a backup quarterback in Tom Savage, who was 22 of 37 for 252 yards and two costly interceptions. A Terrell Suggs strip-sack of Savage with four minutes, 37 seconds remaining sealed the win.
Suggs had both of Baltimore's sacks on Monday and, while the Ravens' defense is by no means poor, it is not the elite unit that paved the way for the franchise's two Super Bowl titles.
TEXANS LEFT WONDERING WHAT IF
Injuries have decimated the Texans this season. Not only did they lose dynamic rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson with a torn ACL earlier this month, rookie running back D'Onta Foreman was lost for the year last week with a torn Achilles. On the other side of the ball, defensive end J.J. Watt is out for the year with an injured back and linebacker Whitney Mercilus ruptured a pectoral muscle in early October.
The Texans have three top-flight defenders in Watt, Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, who had two tackles - both for loss - and a sack on Monday, but have yet to have all three healthy and on the field at the same time.