Last week, the Ravens lost a heart-breaker to the Steelers, 13-10. This was yet another classic defensive battle between the best rivals in the National Football League. Ravens TE Todd Heap injured his hamstring on the first play of the game, did not return, and will miss at least next week's game. The Ravens began with a first quarter touchdown, a 14-yard pass from Flacco to Boldin. The teams exchanged third quarter field goals, and the Ravens took a 10-3 lead into the fourth quarter. Shaun Suisham hit a 19-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth to make it 10-6. With just three minutes left in the game on 2nd and 5, Troy Polamalu came unblocked to Flacco, forcing a fumble and giving the Steelers the ball back deep in Ravens territory. On third and goal, Roethlisberger threw to Isaac Redman, who broke through two tackles and rolled into the end zone. On the Ravens next drive, they drew a pass interference, and were later forced into a fourth and two at the Steelers 31 yard line. John Harbaugh decided not to kick the 49-yard field goal, but instead to go for it. Flacco stepped back, but then under-threw his receiver, ending the game. This game left me and other Ravens fans with many questions about decision making and executing plays. These questions have triggered a new feature I'd like to present called Really?!?!?! with Max Buchdahl.
Really Cam Cameron? You called a pass play on 2nd and 5 with less than three minutes left and a 4 point lead. Really?
Really Michael Oher? You let Troy Polamalu come untouched off the blind side for a sack-fumble that caused a game-winning touchdown? Didn't they make a movie about how you protect the blind side? Really?
Really Dawan Landry? You had Isaac Redman in your arms at the five yard line, which would have forced a fourth down, and you let him get away? Really?
Really John Harbaugh? You decided not to kick the field goal? Billy Cundiff said yes, I want to kick it. Trust your kicker John, come on, that's Football 101. He was bombing those kickoffs, you've got to let him kick that. Really?
Really Joe Flacco? You threw a one-hopper to a wide open receiver on just a three yard pass? Aren't you our franchise quarterback? You have to make that throw. No question about it. Really?
Next Monday night, the Ravens visit the 5-7 Houston Texans for a prime-time Monday Night matchup. The Texans began the year with a big win against the Colts triggering playoff expectations, but have since fallen apart and are on the verge of elimination from playoff contention. The Texans have become known for their explosive offense, led by QB Matt Schaub. RB Arian Foster has emerged as a premier back this season, and could be a threat Monday night against a non-consistent Ravens run defense. The pass defense will have a challenge Monday as well, as they'll be forced to contain Andre Johnson, a top-tier wide receiver. Johnson will be playing with an injured ankle which he re-aggravating last week. If he's limited, Schaub will have to look for other options in receiver Kevin Walter and tight end Joel Dreesen. In a complete contrast to their offense, the Texans have one of the worst defenses in the league. Other than average linebacker play from Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans, their pass defense could take a beating from Flacco on Monday. The Texans pass defense allows an NFL-worst 287.4 passing yards per game. Their run defense is just above average, due to the play of former first-round pick Mario Williams. I have the pass-happy Ravens winning in Houston, 27-14.
Key Matchups for Ravens at Texans
Ravens LB Ray Lewis vs. Texans RB Arian Foster Edge: Lewis
Ravens CB Josh Wilson vs. Texans WR Andre Johnson Edge: Johnson
Ravens RT Marshal Yanda vs. Texans DE Mario Williams Edge: Williams
Ravens WR Anquan Boldin vs. Texans CB Kareem Jackson Edge: Boldin
TE Todd Heap-Hamstring-OUT
CB Fabian Washington-Thigh-QST
TE Garrett Graham-Hamstring-OUT
AFC North Standings
Team W L GB
Steelers 9 3 --
Ravens 8 4 1
Browns 5 7 4
Bengals 2 10 7
AFC North Outlook: All the Steelers need to do in order to win the division is win the rest of their games. Currently, if the Ravens and Steelers end up tied at the end of the year, the Steelers would control the tie-breaker.
That's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and Go Ravens!