The Baltimore Ravens edged by the Houston Texans, 34-28, on Dec. 13 in what was perhaps the Ravens’ most physically and emotionally draining victory so far this season. All Ravens fans breathed a great sigh of relief as the team escaped Houston with an overtime win after blowing a 21-point second half lead. Baltimore leaped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half after a couple of touchdown passes by Ravens third-year quarterback Joe Flacco, and led 28-7 in third quarter after Ravens rookie specialist David Reed returned a kick for a 103-yard touchdown.

But the Texans’ explosive offensive unit eventually warmed up as veteran quarterback Matt Schaub shredded the Ravens secondary for 393 passing yards and three touchdowns. Schaub engineered two back-to-back 95-yard-plus touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter, ripping apart a tired Baltimore defensive unit that struggled to get off the field, giving up third and fourth down conversions. But the Ravens defense would redeem itself, forcing a huge turnover when it mattered most.

Baltimore sealed the road victory when…

Ravens cornerback Josh Wilson intercepted Schaub’s pass and returned it back 12 yards for a game-winning touchdown in overtime. The former University of Maryland star had one of the finest individual performances in his short career, leading the team with seven solo tackles and a couple of deep pass deflections.

Still, Wilson’s pick-6 (an interception returned for a touchdown) came by surprise as the Ravens’ secondary had just relinquished 14 unanswered points in the final six minutes of regulation time. Fortunately for Baltimore, its offensive unit took the field first after winning the coin toss in overtime. The Ravens didn’t produce much on their offensive drive, but it did allow the defensive unit a short break to rest just enough for Wilson to pull off his heroics.

“He’s the hero of the game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Wilson. “He made a play in a critical situation on the road in overtime in December in the playoff hunt.”

The play was so huge Wilson was in awe himself after the game.

“I still can’t believe that really happened,” said Wilson, who was acquired from the Seattle Seahawks just before the season opener. “I was saying, ‘Catch the ball, catch the ball, catch the ball.’ And game over.”

More Game Notes:

Wilson’s score prevented what would have been the Ravens’ fifth loss after blowing a fourth quarter lead. The last and only other time they gave up a 21-point lead was in 1997 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens have given up eight fourth-quarter leads this season, but still managed to win four of those games. Wilson said that’s all that matters.

“It’s all about winning,” he said. “That’s all we care about at the end of the day: Did we win or did we lose? It doesn’t matter what the score is as long as we keep winning. If we win out, we’re Super Bowl champs.”

The Ravens have now advanced to a 9-4 record and currently holds the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs hunt. If they can beat the New Orleans Saints (10-3) on Dec. 19 and continue to win out, they may be able to retake the AFC North lead and reclaim a top-four seed in the postseason

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor