As I stated in a previous article, Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco is more deserving for Rookie of the Year than anybody, in my mind. He didn't make me look bad today. Flacco is making a defense-dominant team look pretty decent on offense.
The 6'6" rookie was 15-for-23 with 185 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. In the last four games, Flacco is 62-for-99 with 805 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 151.0 quarterback rating. More importantly, he's paced the Ravens to four consecutive wins and three consecutive road wins for the first time since 2001.
In a 41-13 win over the Houston Texans today, he threw touchdown passes to Yamon Figurs from 43 yards away and a one-yard lob to Todd Heap. Linebacker Ray Lewis had two interceptions, and Haloti Ngata and Samari Rolle added one each. Flacco continued to show beyond-belief composure for a D-II rookie, never collapsing in the pocket and almost always making his throws.
The Ravens didn't waste any time early in the game. Houston got the ball first and didn't do very much. It looked as if QB Sage Rosenfels and the Texans knew how to attack the Ravens' second-ranked defense. They started the game with an eight-yard strike to Kevin Walter, but two incomplete passes showed what would happen the rest of the day.
The Ravens looked like they didn't know how to attack a terrible Houston defense. They started with a three-and-out. The opening drives for both teams didn't indicate how the game would play out.
The Texans gained seven yards the next drive but failed to get a first-down. The Ravens got the ball rolling the next drive.
They started on their own 23-yard line, but a 20-yard catch by TE Todd Heap and runs by Le'Ron McClain, Ray Rice, and Willis McGahee put the Ravens on the Texans' 43. On 3rd-and-13, Flacco responded to the pressure, throwing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Yamon Figurs, his first catch of the season.
The Texans looked good on the next drive. Rosenfels was 4-for-5 with 46 yards, but the one incomplete pass was an interception caught by nose tackle Haloti Ngata in the end zone. It was Ngata's second pick of the year.
After a Ravens' drive that ended with a punt, the Texans got right back in it with a Kris Brown field goal, his 11th score in as many attempts.
The next Baltimore drive ended in a punt again, but the Texans made a mistake that turned the momentum around for good. With the ball on the two-yard line, Texans offensive linemen Duane Brown was charged with a holding penalty, which, by rule, results in a safety.
The score now was 9-3 Ravens, and they get the ball.
Baltimore got to the Houston 37-yard line on the strength of a Todd Heap 20-yard catch. With 1:06 left, they would be forced to punt or kick a field goal. Punting was the logical choice— that is, if they didn't have rookie Steven Haushcka.
Because of K Matt Stover's struggles from all distances, Coach Jon Harbaugh wisely decided to go with Haushcka. In his first regular season kick, he nailed a 54-yard field goal. Not bad for a walk-on to NC State.
The Texans responded, ending the half with a field goal.
The score was 12-6 Ravens at the half.
The Ravens got the ball first to start the second half, and they pounded away with the running game. On the drive, McGahee ran the ball six times for 24 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run, his fourth of the season.
It was now 19-6 Ravens.
After a lackluster drive by the Ravens, Rosenfels threw his second interception to LB Ray Lewis.
Lewis ran it back 29 yards to the Texans' 41. The Ravens drove only eight yards and Harbaugh made a questionable call by electing Stover to boot it from the 50. Stover missed by about 900 feet and the score remained 19-6.
The Texans responded, and in six seconds, Rosenfels threw the lone Texans touchdown—a 60-yard strike to Kevin Walter.
The Ravens silenced the crowd on the next drive, when Flacco capped a three-minute, 52-second drive by hitting Heap for his first touchdown of the season. Flacco also executed a two-point conversion perfectly, hitting Derrick Mason.
The score was 27-13 Ravens, and the game was just about in the books.
Rosenfels threw another pick, his third of the day, to Lewis for his second interception. In the "Wildcat" formation, Troy Smith threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Heap, the tight end's second score of the game and the season.
It was now 34-13 Ravens.
Forget about it. Just for laughs, Rosenfels threw another pick the next play, this one to Samari Rolle. Nice present for Rolle, since it was the veteran's first game in six weeks.
Willis McGahee pounded it in, and the final score was 41-13.