(Baltimore, MD) — Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed was in the right place at the right time near the end zone. He intercepted a pass by Houston Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates with one hand, and the Baltimore defense held late in the divisional round for a 20-13 win over Houston.
“Thanks for asking me about Ed Reed,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “He’s one of the premier players in football. He has been since he got into the League, from day one. He does everything. He returns punts, and he rushes punts when we ask him to. He plays defense. He tackles, even though some people don’t think he tackles. He tackles a lot. Look at how many tackles he has this year. But, then he comes up with the plays, and he made that play at the end. I’m sure glad we have him. He’s a great player. He’s a great person.”
Watching the Ravens play is gut wrecking. Foster applied the heartache as he ran through and around the great Baltimore defense.
Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones fumbled a punt midway through the first quarter. It was recovered by rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith at the Houston two to give them a 3-0 lead.
The Ravens put on a clinic and scored 17 unanswered points in the period.
“Well, it was huge. [We had] the ball on the three yard line,” said Harbaugh. “Cary Williams – he’s a starting corner, and he goes out there and plays gunner. He causes a fumble. I think it was Jimmy Smith – he’s a starter in our nickel package. He goes out there and recovers the fumble. Credit to those guys. It was a huge play for us, and then, obviously, capitalizing on the offense.”
Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates was under constant pressure from the Ravens defense. Houston adjusted by relying on Foster, who finished with 132 rushing yards on 27 carries and a touchdown.
Yates settled into finding his receivers to put pressure on the Ravens’ defense. Ultimately, there was more pressure on the Baltimore offense.
The Texans managed to post 10 unanswered points of their own in the second quarter, as they came within four with a score of 17-13.
The Ravens offense disappeared for the second and third quarter. Their last score was with 1:13 left in the first quarter. That was when quarterback Joe Flacco hooked up with wide receiver Anquan Boldin for a 10-yard touchdown.
In their next seven possessions, the Ravens punted six times and had a turnover on downs.
Baltimore was within one yard of scoring a touchdown in the third quarter with 1:59 remaining. Then running back Ray Rice ran into the great wall of Houston on 4th-and-1.
With 2:52 remaining in the contest, the Ravens scored three points—thanks to a 44-yard field goal by kicker Billy Cundiff.
The anticipation of a victory among the Ravens faithful was high and the comfort level in M&T Bank Stadium increased as the game went on.
Yates and the Texans were moving the ball down the field. That was, until the Raven veteran safety – Reed -leap for a one-handed interception with 2:00 remaining in the game.
“Trust me when I tell you this, I pretty much listen to what nobody else says outside of our room,” said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis with passion. “But when it comes to my brothers inside of our building, to me Ed Reed is one of the best safeties that I’ve ever played with and will go down as one of the best safeties to ever play the game.”
After the Ravens offense failed to produce a first down to run out the clock, the Ravens defense held off a Texans comeback.
“I think it was a Ravens’ type victory,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “I always say this: ‘There’s a right way to do things, there’s a wrong way to do things, and then there’s the Ravens’ way to do things.’ It wasn’t really pretty but hey, we’re not really a pretty team. We got the ‘W’, and on to the AFC Championship.”
The Ravens head to New England for the AFC Championship game against terrific Tom Brady and the Patriot Sunday – with tons of questions surrounding the Baltimore offense.
“We’ve gone out there and played before,” said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. “We’ve gone on the road and played a championship game since I’ve been here. We didn’t win that game. We have won in New England. They are one of the teams, just like us, that’s tough to beat at home.
“They play very well up there, but we know how tough it is to go into a place like that, a place like here, and win a football game,” he added. “So we’re going to have to make sure we prepare well all week and bring our A-game up there.”