Houston (10-6) shut down Cincinnati 31-10 in an AFC Wild Card game last Saturday, behind rookie quarterback T.J. Yates, who passed for 159 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals. Running back Arian Foster rushed for 153 yards and two scores. After trailing 10-7 in the second quarter, the Texans scored 24 straight points to pull away for the franchise’s first playoff victory.
The Ravens (12-4) gained the AFC’s No. 2 seed by virtue of a two-game sweep of division rival Pittsburgh, as the Steelers also finished 12-4.
Both teams’ offenses can put points on the board, but defense will decide who advances. The Texans and Ravens were the only two teams in the NFL to rank in the top five in total defense, rushing defense and passing defense. And this game will come in rare circumstances for the Ravens, as they will host a playoff game in Baltimore for the first time in five seasons.
This will also be a rematch as the Texans and Ravens met October 16 in Baltimore. The Ravens won 29-14, thanks to running back Ray Rice, who had 161 yards from scrimmage (101 rushing), and quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ricky Williams each scored a rushing TD.
We take a look inside the game notes provided by each club’s PR department, as well as info from the NFL Communications office (via Elias Sports Bureau).
Houston (10-6; AFC South champion) beat Cincinnati in the AFC Wild Card Game last Saturday:
- Can win their first road playoff game in franchise history.
- Can record their first win against Baltimore in franchise history.
- Can become the sixth expansion franchise since 1976 to advance to the conference championship game in its first postseason.
- Can post a positive turnover margin for the second consecutive postseason game and for the 10th time overall this season.
- Can hold an opponent to fewer than 20 points for the second consecutive postseason game and the 12th time overall this season.
- Can outrush their opponent for the second consecutive postseason game and the 13th time overall this season.
- Can win time of possession for the first time this postseason and the 13th time overall this season.
- RB Arian Foster can become the 17th player to rush for 100 or more yards in consecutive postseason games.
- QB T.J. Yates can become the third quarterback to win two playoff games in his rookie season, and the first quarterback drafted outside of the first round to do so. Yates would join Baltimore QB Joe Flacco (2008) and New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez (2009).
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT ON PASS DEFENSE: Houston’s 2011 pass defense was the polar opposite of what it was in 2010. The Texans were third in the NFL in overall pass defense, allowing 189.7 passing yards per game compared to the 267.5 net passing yards the 2010 defense allowed, which ranked last in the NFL. In addition to cutting down the number of yards it allows through the air, Houston’s defense improved in every significant passing category. The Texans lead the NFL with a 51.9 opponent completion percentage andhad the second-lowest opponent passer rating, 69.0. Houston had more interceptions (17 to 14) and sacks (44 to 30) than it had the previous year.
OPENING DRIVES: The Texans ranked second in the NFL with a franchise-record 58 points on their first possesions in 2011, besting the 2007 mark of 48 points. On 16 drives, the Texans recorded eight touchdowns and a field goal. In the second half, the Texans were just as successful, scoring 50 points off of their first drives to rank third in 2011.
TIME IS ON OUR SIDE: Houston led the NFL in time of possession, holding the ball an average of 32:41 per game, and won the time of possession battle in all but three games in 2011. Sustained drives were a big part of Houston’s ball-control proficiency. The Texans were third in the NFL with 27 drives lasting five minutes or longer. Houston also had two 10-minute in 2011.
Baltimore (12-4; AFC North champion) will open its’ postseason Sunday as the AFC’s No. 2 seed:
UNDEFEATED AT HOME: For the first time in team history, the Ravens went undefeated at home (8-0) and became just one of three NFL teams (GB and NO) to accomplish the feat in 2011. Under head coach John Harbaugh (since 2008), the Ravens have won 18 of their last 19 home games and are 27-5 in games played in Baltimore.
In their eight home games this season – all wins – the Ravens averaged 27.4 points per contest, while permitting just 14.9 ppg. Baltimore outscored opponents 219-119.
The Ravens totaled 33 sacks and forced 18 turnovers at home, allowing 12 sacks and turning the ball over just 11 times (registering a +7 turnover margin).
During the John Harbaugh era (since 2008), the Ravens have outscored opponents 817-426 at M&T Bank Stadium.
NUMBER TO RAVE ABOUT:
- 3.53: Yards per rush the Ravens’ defense allowed in 2011, the NFL’s second-best average (SF – 3.50). The Ravens have now held foes to under 4 yards per carry in each year of their existence (1996-2011), producing an NFL-record 16-consecutive-seasons streak (15 by both Buffalo, 1986-2000 & Dallas, 1964-78).
SCORING DEFENSE: The Ravens allowed 16.6 points per game in 2011, the NFL’s third-best mark. Baltimore also permitted a league-low 21 offensive TDs, including the fewest passing TDs (11). The 11 passing scores allowed also tied (2000) a franchise record.
Baltimore has posted the league’s No. 3 scoring “D” each of the past four seasons, tying an NFL record for consecutive years ranking in the Top 3.
During the John Harbaugh era (since 2008), the Ravens have allowed 16.3 points per game, the NFL’s second-best mark (Pit. – 15.7 ppg).
RICE LEADS NFL: RB Ray Rice posted a career-best and an NFL-high 2,068 yards from scrimmage, also adding a Ravens-record 15 total TDs (12 rushing and 3 receiving). Rice’s 1,364 rushing yards ranked second in the NFL, while his 2,068 total yards marked the second time (2009: 2,041) that he’s surpassed the 2,000 milestone.
Rice became just the second player in NFL history to post multiple 1,000-yard rushing/700-yard receiving seasons (also in 2009), joining Marshall Faulk, who did it an impressive four times (1998-2001).
Here is a look at the Texans-Ravens matchup from NFL Communications:
TEAMS MEET for 1st time in postseason. Clubs met in Week 6 (Baltimore 29-14).
TEXANS: Earned 1st playoff win in franchise history last week … Rookie QB T.J. Yates (5th round, No. 152) completed 11 of 20 passes for 159 yards with 1 TD vs. 0 INTs & 97.7 passer rating in playoff debut. Yates is 1st rookie QB drafted in 5th round or later to win postseason game in era of common draft … Offense rushed for 188 yards last week. Texans ranked 2nd in NFL with 153 rush yards per game in ’11 regular season (Den, 164.5) … Last week, RB Arian Foster (153) joined Paul Lowe (165 on 1/1/61 with Chargers) & Ryan Grant (201 on 1/12/08 with Packers) as 3rd undrafted player in NFL history with 100+ yards in 1st postseason game. Averaged NFL-best 141.6 scrimmage yards per game (1,841 total in 13 regular season games) in ’11. Incl. postseason, Foster aims for 4th consecutive game with 100+ rush yards (109, 158, 153). Tied NFL-best in ’11 with 7 100-yard rushing game (Willis McGahee). Averaged 113 scrimmage yards per game in 2 career regular season meetings vs. Ravens. Foster registered 1,200+ rush yards &10+ rush TDs in consecutive seasons (1,616 & 16 in ’10; 1,224 & 10 in ’11). Foster (1,224) & RB Ben Tate (942) were only NFL RB duo with 900+ rush yards apiece in ’11. WR Andre Johnson had 5 receptions for 90 yards (18.0 avg.) with 1 TD in 1st career postseason game last week. Johnson had 9 catches for 140 receiving yards (15.6 avg.) with 2 TD catches in last game vs. Bal. (12/13/10). WR Jacoby Jones had 32-yard TD catch in Week 6 against Ravens … TE Owen Daniels averages 14.6 yards per catch in 3 games vs. Ravens. Daniels has 299 career regular season catches, 2nd-most in franchise history (Johnson, 706). TE Joel Dreessen had career-best 6 TD catches in ’11 … Defense allowed 285.7 yards per game, 2nd-fewest in NFL this season (Pit, 271.8) … Texans registered 4 sacks last week … CB Johnathan Joseph has 3 career INTs against Ravens. Posted 1st career postseason INT last week … LB Connor Barwin had 11.5 sacks this season, 3rd-most in club history (Mario Williams, 14 in ’07; 12 in ’08) … LB Brian Cushing led team with 8 tackles last week & posted club-high 114 tackles in ’11 … DeAntonio Smith has 3 sacks, 1 FF & 1 FR in 5 career postseason games. Last week, DE J.J. Watt (1st round, No. 11) became 1st rookie to have both INT-return TD & sack in NFL postseason game since sacks became official in 1982 … S Danieal Manning registered 1st career postseason INT last week (6 career playoff games) … Club had 2 players selected to 2012 Pro Bowl (RB Foster & CB Joseph).
RAVENS: Won AFC North title for 1st time since ’06 … Club is 8-0 at home this season … Ravens seek 1st postseason win at home since 12/31/00 … QB Joe Flacco is 1st QB to start postseason game in each of 1st 4 seasons in Super Bowl era. Has 4-3 record as starter in postseason. In 3 career games vs. Hou., Flacco is 3-0 & has completed 57 of 89 passes (64 pct.) for 725 yards with 4 TDs vs. 1 INT & 99.7 passer rating. Will make 1st career playoff start at home. Flacco has 27-5 (.844) regular season record at home with 39 TDs vs. 19 INTs & 90 passer rating. Incl. postseason, Ravens are 24-2 (.923) when Flacco has 100+ rating … RB Ray Rice posted NFL-best 2,068 scrimmage yards in ’11. Led AFC RBs with 76 receptions this season. Reached 1,200 rush yards for 3rd straight regular season (1,339 in ’09, 1,220 in ’10, 1,364 in ’11). In Week 6, Rice had 161 scrimmage yards (101 rushing, 60 receiving) vs. Texans. Has 3 rush TDs in past 4 postseason games. In Week 17, RB Ricky Williams (10,009) became 26th player in NFL history to reach 10,000 career rush yards. Had rush TD in last game vs. Hou … FB Vonta Leach spent 5 seasons with Texans (2006-10) … WR Anquan Boldin had season-best 8 catches for 132 yards (16.5 avg.) in last game against Texans. Boldin has 20 catches for 252 yards with 2 TDs in 5 career postseason games. Rookie WR Torrey Smith had 3 receptions for 84 yards (28 avg.) in only meeting against Texans. Smith tied for 2nd among NFL rookies with 7 TD catches (Julio Jones, 8)…TE Ed Dickson had career-best in receptions (54), receiving yards (528) & TD catches (5) in ’11…Defense led AFC w/ 48 sacks … Ravens have not allowed 100-yard rusher in 15 consecutive postseason games, 3rd longest current streak in NFL … Defense allowed 3rd-fewest yards per game (288.9) & points per game (16.6) this season…LB Ray Lewis led club with 95 tackles. Lewis will play in 16th career postseason game (9-6). LB Terrell Suggs led AFC with 14 sacks in ’11, 3rd-most in season in franchise history (Peter Boulware, 15 in ’01; Michael McCrary, 14.5 in ’98). Suggs has 10 career postseason sacks in 9 games. Suggs has 4 sacks & 1 FF in 4 games vs. Hou … Rookie DE Pernell McPhee (5th round, No. 165) posted 6 sacks … S Ed Reed has 7 INTs in 9 career playoff games … CB Lardarius Webb has career-best 5 INTs in ’11 … Club had 7 players selected to 2012 Pro Bowl (FB Leach, LB Lewis, DT Haloti Ngata, S Reed, RB Rice, LB Suggs, & G Marshal Yanda).