Last Monday night, the Ravens pulled out a 34-28 overtime win over the Texans. This improves the Ravens record to 9-4 on the season. The Ravens opened up on fire, with a 1-yard McGahee touchdown run. They then put two more scores on the board, two passes from Flacco to Mason to stretch their lead to three possessions. But the defense made a bad mistake at the end of the half, letting up a 45-yard touchdown pass from Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson. But the momentum shifted back to the Ravens to begin the second half when KR David Reed returned the kick 103 yards to the end zone for another Ravens score. Neil Rackers hit two field goals to finish the third quarter, the Ravens still holding on to a 28-13 lead. This is when the Texans began their outrageous comeback. After driving 99 yards down the field, Schaub found Jacoby Jones for a 7-yard score. After another three-and-out by the Texans defense, Ravens Punter Sam Koch pinned the Texans inside their five yard-line once again. But once again, the Texans marched down the field at will, scoring on a 5-yard pass to Johnson with less than a minute left. But now, they still had to convert the two-point conversion in order to tie the game. Schaub's pass went to the back of the end zone, looking for Johnson, but Jacoby Jones leaped in front and caught the pass to tie the game, putting all momentum in the Texans' hands. The Ravens won the toss, but were forced to punt again, and again Koch pinned the Texans. On just their second play, Schaub threw an off-balance pass intended for Kevin Walter, but CB Josh Wilson stepped in front of the pass and returned it 12 yards to the house to give the Ravens a victory.
Co-Players of the Game: Ravens Punter Sam Koch-5 punts inside 20 yard-line, punt leading to game winning touchdown
Ravens CB Josh Wilson-7 tackles, game-winning interception returned touchdown
An awful second-half performance gives me the opportunity for yet another Really?!?!?! with Max Buchdahl.
Really Greg Mattison? You can't prepare your defense for one big stop in the second half? Get them ready to go and shut down the Texans. Really?
Really Cam Cameron? You called a pass play on 3rd and 2 that ended in an incompletion? A run play would have taken 40 huge seconds off of the clock. Really?
Really John Harbaugh? The Texans are marching down the field, you have two timeouts, and you don't take one to give the defense a rest. Really?
Next week, the Ravens will host the defending world champions, the 10-3 New Orleans Saints. The Saints high-powered offense will provide a big challenge to the Ravens defense. If the defense can buckle down and shut down the Saints, they will be able to maintain their reputation as a hard-nosed defense, a reputation that they slightly lost in their collapse last week in Houston. There is a small chance of precipitation Sunday, which would help the Ravens because it would be tougher to pass for Drew Brees and the Saints, a pass-heavy offense. The main cause of Brees' success in New Orleans is the number of receivers he has, and his ability to spread the ball around. It seems as if he finds a new receiver he loves each week, and the defense has to figure out who it is. The lack of a running game for the Saints hurts their attempt at a balanced attack, with RBs Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas sharing carries. The Saints also have a top-ten defense, led by LB Jonathan Vilma and veteran S Darren Sharper. Their defensive system is designed to be able to contain all types of offense, and when successful, it isn't easy to move the ball against them. These teams expect to see each other in Dallas come February, and if both teams can improve, it's a likely Super Bowl matchup. I have the Ravens winning this battle on Sunday, 23-17.
Key Matchups for Saints at Ravens
Ravens S Ed Reed vs. Saints QB Drew Brees Edge: Reed
Ravens CB Josh Wilson vs. Saints WR Marques Colston Edge: Colston
Ravens LT Michael Oher vs. Saints DE Will Smith Edge: Smith
Ravens WR Anquan Boldin vs. Saints CB Tracy Porter Edge: Boldin
TE Todd Heap-Hamstring-OUT
S Tom Zbikowski-Back-OUT
FB Le'Ron McClain-Illness-QST
RB Willis McGahee-Illness-QST
WR Courtney Roby-Head-OUT
TE David Thomas-Knee-OUT
DT Anthony Hargrove-Knee-QST
RB Chris Ivory-Hamstring-QST
AFC North Standings
Team W L GB
Steelers 10 3 --
Ravens 9 4 1
Browns 5 8 5
Bengals 2 11 8
AFC North Outlook: Again, all the Steelers need to do is win out in order to win the division. But two Steelers losses together with the Ravens winning out gives the Ravens the division title. The Steelers do have an easy ride, as after facing the Jets this week, they play two sub-.500 teams.
Well, that's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and go Ravens!