Ravens 20, Texans 13: Historic Season Ends from Self-Inflicted Wounds

Categories: Sports

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Looking ahead to the fall, finally.
In the big picture, the Texans were playing with house money.

With little playoff experience and on a third-string rookie quarterback, this shouldn't rank high on the list of Houston football collapses. This wasn't the Oilers in Denver and Buffalo, circa 1992 and 1993.

But make no mistake: The Texans were the better team on Sunday, and they let a trip to the AFC championship game slip through their fingers (more precisely, Jacoby Jones's fingers).

They know it.

"It just stings right now," said head coach Gary Kubiak. "We were a couple of mistakes from winning the game."

The Texans left the Ravens bullied and bruised. Wade Phillips's defense executed its plan to perfection, completely flipping the script from when the Ravens wore them down in a 400+ yard effort in week 6.

This time, the Ravens had a mere 227 yards. They went 3-and-out five times in the second half. Joe Flacco was sacked five times. Three fumbles were forced, although all miraculously bounced back to the home team.

This game had all the makings of a 13-3 suffocation, in which Arian Foster (27 carries, 132 yards, one touchdown) should have been able to burn clock and wear the vaunted Baltimore defense down, all while the Texans' unit harassed Flacco into sacks and mistakes.

He'll be back
The Texans controlled both lines of scrimmage all day, beating the Ravens in their own house at their own physical game. It was an incredibly gutsy effort in which any Texan fan can be proud.

"They talk about how tough the Ravens are," said team owner Bob McNair. "Well, I tell you, they ain't as tough as the Texans."

Unfortunately, a trio of unforced errors made it all for naught.

The Bill Buckner-esque muffed punt from Jones practically handed the Ravens seven points. Later in the first quarter, T.J. Yates inexplicably forced a throw to a blanketed Andre Johnson, and that interception led to another seven Baltimore points.

The Texans found themselves in the position they knew they couldn't afford -- down big (17-3) against an elite defense with Yates at quarterback -- and 14 of the 17 Baltimore points came via unforced errors.

"If we didn't turn it over, it's a different game," said Kubiak.

But if there's one thing we know about Kubiak's Texans, it's that they don't quit. They certainly didn't on Sunday. After falling into the early hole, they settled in and dominated Baltimore on both lines of scrimmage for much of the second and third quarters, punctuated by a 12-play, 86-yard scoring drive that ended with a Foster touchdown. That cut the lead to 17-13.

The momentum continued in the third quarter, but a familiar bugaboo returned for the Texans with Neil Rackers's inconsistency on long-range field goals. With the wind at his back, Rackers was short on a 50-yard kick that would've closed the gap to 17-16 and put the Texans within a field goal of the lead.

Instead, they remained down four -- needing a touchdown -- and the missed kick set up Baltimore at its own 40-yard line.

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The Jacoby play was surely bone-headed, but IF he is released or relegated to another role on this team, it should be for his career body of work, not one play. He is arguably still a dangerous (in the positive sense) return man, but his skills as a WR are probably his biggest black mark. The unfortunate part is that he was re-upped prior to the season. He has become a one-dimensional asset, who made a big, highly visible boo-boo in a playoff game.

And contrary to popular, ill-informed opinion, Kareem Jackson showed a lot of positive signs this year. He is maturing in the right direction, in a position that takes time to learn at the NFL level. If you look at virtually any team's "second" corner back, by definition few are particularly stellar, and naturally have more balls coming their direction. The bigger issues with Kjax are whether he will ever justify being drafted when he was, and whether he can develop any true play-making / ball-hawking skills. The latter COULD develop with further maturity and coaching in a full training camp. But considering his affordable contract, he should be kept on the roster as a starting CB / split time with Allen. IF the Texans choose otherwise, Kjax should only potentially lose his job to a veteran, free-agent CB. There's no sense in drafting another CB given this team's needs at second WR.


Big props to this awesome team that got us to round two of the playoffs! I commend them on their efforts for the year and look forward to doing it all again next year! GO TEXANS! 


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