Defensive Player of the Year favorite J.J. Watt had a game-high seven tackles, including a sack and a pass deflected into an interception to lead the Houston Texans to a 25-13 upset over the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 21 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans set up on the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
The loss by the Ravens ended their chance for full control over their playoffs destiny –Baltimore only needed to win both of their last two games to guarantee a seed in the playoffs. But a loss to the Texans (8-7 overall) Sunday took that away and knocked them out of the sixth and final seed of the AFC Playoffs bracket for now, as they were replaced by the San Diego Chargers (9-6 overall). Baltimore will now need to win the season finale against the Cleveland Browns next week, plus hope that other teams lose their matchups to get into the playoffs.
Watt created pure havoc against the Ravens, leading a defensive unit that not only shut down Baltimore’s top-ranked rushing offense, but also rattled Ravens’ former Super Bowl MVP quarterback into one of the worst performances of his career.
Baltimore was completely shut down on offense from start to finish — the Ravens punted the ball during each of their first six possessions and fell behind, 16-0, by halftime. The Ravens caught one break in the third quarter after a long punt return by Jacoby Jones set up a short field for quarterback Joe Flacco, who eventually found Torrey Smith wide open for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Flacco found Torrey again in the fourth quarter for a 20-yard touchdown pass, but by then Baltimore trailed 25-13 with less than five minutes remaining in the game–hardly enough time for them to pull off a comeback against the Texans’ stout defense.
Flacco finished the game 21-of-50 for 195 passing yards, two touchdowns but also three interceptions thrown. Ravens running back Justin Forsett also had his worst performance of the year, rushing 10 times for a mere 19 yards. Smith caught both of Flacco’s touchdown passes and finished with five catches for 59 yards.
Texans running back Arian Foster had a game-high 96 rushing yards on 25 carries; and Watt had a game-high seven tackles, six made solo, including a sack that pushed him into the lead in the NFL for most individual sacks recorded this season with 17.5. Watt also perfectly timed and tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage that floated in the air for an easy interception for Houston’s defense. With 53 tackles, 17.5 sacks and 11 pass deflections, Watt is favored to win the defensive player award following this season.
Next: Ravens will host the Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 28. Kickoff set for 1 p.m. EST.