Ravens beat Texans in overtime, 34-28
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
HOUSTON (AP) — Joe Flacco was clicking, the defense was dominating and even the special teams scored a touchdown.
The Baltimore Ravens seemed to be rolling to an easy victory in Houston on Monday night, then nearly let it all slip away.
Luckily for the Ravens, the Texans are inept at finishing games.
Josh Wilson intercepted Matt Schaub’s pass and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown in overtime, lifting the Ravens to a 34-28 win over Houston.
Baltimore (9-4) stayed one game behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North despite blowing a 28-7 lead in the second half.
“There’s always plays that define where you go,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “For us to get that win the way we got it, I’m telling you, if you’re not happy, there’s something wrong with you.”
Schaub threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson and a 2-point conversion to Jacoby Jones with 21 seconds left in regulation to cap the unlikely rally.
Schaub finished 31 of 62 for 393 yards and three touchdowns, but the effort counted for nothing. Houston (5-8) has lost six of its last seven and will almost certainly miss the playoffs again.
Coach Gary Kubiak hardly knew what to say to his team.
“I wish I had the perfect words,” Kubiak said. “I always tell people the truth. The truth is, I didn’t know what to tell them.”
Baltimore lost fourth-quarter leads in each of its four losses and had to punt after its only offensive series of overtime. Houston started from its 12, and Schaub was trying to connect with Jones on second down when Wilson picked it off and ran into the end zone.
“I still kind of can’t believe that really happened,” Wilson said. “I was just saying ‘Catch the ball, catch the ball, catch the ball,’ and game over.”
The Ravens seemed to have the game well in hand when rookie David Reed returned the second-half kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, a franchise record.
Houston mounted two time-consuming drives in the third quarter, but only came away with field goals. Yet the Texans’ defense, ranked among the league’s worst in every category, held the Ravens to four first downs in the second half and kept Houston’s comeback hopes flickering.
The Texans’ offense finally came alive after a listless first half. Schaub went 24 for 41 in the last two quarters after going 7 for 21 in the first half.
He threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jones with 6 minutes left to finish a 15-play, 99-yard drive, the longest in team history.
The defense forced another Baltimore punt with 2:54 left, and Schaub launched the tying drive with a 16-yard completion to Kevin Walter. Schaub went 8 for 10 in the 95-yard march, and scrambled for a first down.
Johnson managed to keep his toes inbounds on the spectacular 5-yard touchdown reception that made it 28-26, and Jones grabbed Houston’s first 2-point conversion of the year to tie it.
“This football team has lost a lot of close games by some crazy situations,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “Now you’re down here playing Monday night football and this place was electric. We quieted it down for a little while but obviously it got amped up in the second half.”
The Texans had lost fourth-quarter leads in their previous four losses, all because the defense gave up long pass plays.
This time, the usually reliable Schaub made the late-game mistake that cost Houston a chance to win. Schaub came in with a 65 percent completion rate in his career, second to Drew Brees among active quarterbacks.
“I didn’t make a play,” Schaub said. “As a quarterback at this level, you have the opportunity to take your team down and win the game, you’ve got to do it. I didn’t do it.”
The Ravens seemed as relieved as they were thrilled after Wilson scored. Players on the sideline stormed onto the field, while linebacker Terrell Suggs took off his helmet and walked up to Schaub for a quick conversation. Flacco also sought out Schaub and shook his hand.
Flacco threw two touchdown passes to Derrick Mason and Willis McGahee also scored in the first half. Flacco completed 15 of 22 passes for 152 yards in the half.
On Mason’s second score, he sidestepped Jason Allen, then came out of his left shoe on a 26-yard reception just under 2 minutes before halftime. That score, making it 21-0, was set up when Chris Carr picked off a deflected pass from Schaub.
While Baltimore’s offense found its stride for the first time in two weeks, the defense was its usual stingy self until the late-game struggles.
Schaub was 7 for 21 in the first half, and star receiver Johnson didn’t make a catch until the final 90 seconds. The Texans were 1 for 7 on third-down conversions in the first half.
Johnson got Houston’s offense going when he grabbed a 46-yard pass from Schaub for a touchdown less than a minute before halftime to get Houston within 21-7.
Notes: The Ravens are 16-1 against teams with sub-.500 records under Harbaugh. ... Ravens K Billy Cundiff booted the opening kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. Cundiff is the only kicker in the league with a touchback in every game this season. ... Mason has 53 catches this year and became the seventh player in NFL history to have at least 50 in 11 consecutive seasons. ... Schaub became Houston’s all-time passing leader. He has 13,535 yards and surpassed David Carr’s 13,391 yards.