In the Ravens’ three wins prior to today, they’d coasted to victory.
A 28-point win over Pittsburgh. A 30-point win at St. Louis. A 17-point victory against the Jets.
There was no coasting today.
This afternoon, the Ravens needed one of those good old fashioned grind-it-out performances. They trailed midway through the third quarter, had just a five-point lead entering the fourth and needed a strong final period to come away with the win.
That’s just what they got, as Baltimore rattled off 16-straight points and held Houston scoreless for the final 23 minutes.
“You’ve got to win those dogfights, and this is a team that can easily come in and make you look really bad,” linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “To play as sound as we did and to go through some adversity and pull it out in the end, that’s what we needed.”
Houston had six drives in the second half. The first went 80 yards and resulted in the touchdown which gave them a 14-13 lead. After that, they didn’t have a drive longer than 37 yards. They punted three times and turned the ball over on downs twice.
The Ravens, on the other hand, scored on five of their six legitimate second half drives (the final series was just a couple kneel downs, so I won’t count it), and had four scoring drives that went 47 yards or longer.
“I think it was really encouraging to see the way we responded in a tight game in the fourth quarter,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “To have to come out and really win the fourth quarter in that kind of fashion is a huge statement. You have to do it on both sides, to be able to do that. It seemed like we had the ball most of the fourth quarter, so that’s how you do that.”
Baltimore’s fourth quarter dominance this afternoon was especially important given what happened a year ago.
Leading by 21 in the second half, the Ravens let Houston come back in the teams’ 2010 match-up, and the Texans ended up sending the game to overtime before Baltimore was able to come away with the win.
There were no such late theatrics from the Texans today, as the Ravens had possession for nearly 18 minutes in the second half and the defense held Houston to 1-of-6 on third down opportunities. The Ravens also picked up their running game in the final 30 minutes, recording 91 of their 113 rushing yards in the second half.
“That’s what you have to do against a team like this,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “You can’t shut them down and try to hang on and win a game. Those guys are a good team. They have the ability to score. They have the ability to make some plays on defense. So you have to keep it going, you have to mix it up and really be aggressive.
“We were able to move the chains and getting the ball in the end zone there at the end was huge.”