Locked in a tight game against a wounded opponent, the Baltimore Ravens cranked up the defense and supplemented their rejuvenated running attack with a couple of long passes to pull away to another double-digit home win.
Joe Flacco threw for 305 yards and ran for a score, Billy Cundiff kicked five field goals, and Baltimore beat the Houston Texans 29-14 Sunday.
The Ravens (4-1) remained alone atop the AFC North with their third straight win. Although Baltimore’s run of nine straight games with a takeaway ended, the Ravens held Houston scoreless over the final 21 minutes and limited standout running back Arian Foster to 49 yards on 15 attempts.
Flacco had two turnovers, but he also had two completions over 50 yards to put Cundiff in position to score. Cundiff connected from 43, 48, 25, 33 and 40 yards to tie a Ravens record for field goals in a game.
Even though the Texans (3-3) were without wide receiver Andre Johnson and linebacker Mario Williams, they led briefly in the third quarter. But Baltimore was too tough down the stretch, allowing only 58 yards and three first downs in the final 15 minutes while outscoring Houston 13-0.
”I think it was really encouraging to see how (we) responded to a tight game in the fourth quarter,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. ”To come out and win the fourth quarter in that fashion is a huge statement.”
Still, Houston trailed only 19-14 until the Ravens went on a 66-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Ricky Williams with 4:01 left.
Flacco completed 20 of 33 passes and Anquan Boldin had eight catches for 132 yards, including a 56-yarder.
”Anquan was able to do some things in the slot,” Flacco said. ”There was just enough separation to enable me to get the ball in there. He made some big catches, especially on that big long one.”
Ray Rice ran 23 times for 101 yards to help Baltimore win at home for the 13th time in 14 games. The Ravens are 3-0 at M&T Bank Stadium this season, beating Pittsburgh, the New York Jets and Houston by a combined 98-38.
Matt Schaub went 21 for 37 for 220 yards for the Texans, 0-5 against Baltimore since entering the NFL in 2002. The 14 points were the fewest by the Texans since a 10-point performance against the New York Giants on Oct. 10, 2010.
Schaub wouldn’t use the absence of Johnson, Williams or fullback James Casey (chest) as an excuse.
”It’s part of the game. You deal with it, move on,” he said. ”The next guy’s got to be ready to make a play.”
Baltimore had 32 yards rushing in the first half and finished with 113. Houston, meanwhile, converted half its 10 third-down tries in the first half but was 1 for 6 after halftime.
”Early on we were getting them to third-and-long and they were converting. It was a little bit frustrating,” Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson said. ”We just kept grinding.”
Rice began the third quarter with an 18-yard run after gaining only 16 yards on eight carries before halftime. That sparked a 47-yard drive to a 48-yard field goal and a 13-7 lead.
Houston moved in front for the only time with a six-play, 80-yard drive. Schaub had completions of 20 yards to Kevin Walter and 16 yards to Foster before throwing a perfect 32-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones, who got behind safety Ed Reed in the end zone.
Baltimore went back ahead on the following series, using a 51-yard pass from Flacco to rookie Torrey Smith to set up a 25-yard field goal and a 16-14 advantage.
After a Houston punt, Flacco found Boldin open down the left sideline for a 56-yard gain, and Cundiff kicked his fourth field goal.
The Texans’ next series ended when safety Bernard Pollard, a former Houston starter, broke up a third-down pass to Foster at the Baltimore 30.
Houston never threatened after that.
”We were right there in the game where we wanted to be at 19-14, on the road against this team,” coach Gary Kubiak said. ”We didn’t make the plays and they did.”
Flacco lost a fumble and threw an interception in the first half, but he also scored a touchdown to help the Ravens take a 10-7 lead.
The Ravens moved 97 yards in 16 plays on their first possession and went up 7-0 on a 1-yard run by Flacco, who went 7 for 8 for 82 yards on the drive. It was the first touchdown against Houston in the opening quarter this season.
Midway through the second quarter, Kubiak kept his offense on the field on a fourth-and-1 at the Baltimore 20. Foster was stopped for no gain, but Houston got the ball back when Tim Jamison sacked Flacco, forced a fumble and recovered it at the 17.
Three plays later, Texans guard Wade Smith recovered a fumble by Ben Tate in the end zone.
NOTES: The Ravens held a moment of silence before the game to mark the passing of Patricia Modell, wife of former owner Art Modell. They also had flags flying at half staff. … With his first-quarter sack of Schaub, Ray Lewis became the first player in NFL history with 40 sacks and 30 INTs. … Houston failed to score on its first possession for the first time in five games.