Flacco protects ball, Ravens use takeaways to beat Texans
By DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) — Joe Flacco doesn’t mind putting up mediocre numbers and looking rather ordinary, as long as he can keep doing it right into the NFL playoffs.
The Baltimore Ravens offense turned in another mundane performance Monday night, yet it was good enough to beat the Houston Texans 23-16.
Flacco went 20 for 32 for 141 yards and no touchdowns. He has nine touchdown passes compared to 11 interceptions this year, but heck, the Ravens are 6-5 and in the midst of a postseason run.
So forgive him for defending Baltimore’s plodding offense.
“It’s how we’re playing,” Flacco said. “Going out there and playing offensive football, you put yourself in position to make mistakes and do things that are bad.”
Bad things, such as committing a turnover. The Texans (4-7) gave it away three times, and paid the price — their fourth loss in five games.
“You’re not going to win any games when you turn it over and you don’t get any takeaways,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien lamented.
Some things we learned about the Ravens and Texans:
A SECOND CHANCE: O’Brien has been preaching pocket presence to quarterback Tom Savage, but the coach wouldn’t fault the quarterback for the strip-sack and fumble that turned the ball over to the Ravens at a critical fourth-quarter juncture.
Baltimore cashed in with a field goal for a seven-point lead with 2:53 left.
O’Brien admitted that Savage needs to perform better, but said the Ravens’ relentless defense didn’t exactly give him room to work.
“If you put a clock on that, he might have had one second to get the ball off, so you could have the greatest pocket awareness in the world and you have no chance there,” O’Brien said. “I wouldn’t put that one on him.”
PONCE DE LEON: Ravens coach John Harbaugh says the 35-year-old Suggs “is playing as well — or better — than I’ve seen him ever play.”
“He’s Ponce de Leon,” Harbaugh said of the six-time Pro Bowler. “You should put that on the back of his jersey. He has found the Fountain of Youth.”
Harbaugh said Suggs, a 15-year NFL veteran, came over to him after his late-game sack to ask him if he wanted to say thank you. “I said, ‘Yes, I do,'” recalled Harbaugh, before looking at Suggs and saying, “Have I ever told you I love you?”
NO MO FOR TEXANS: Savage directed a nine-play, 90-yard drive on Houston’s first possession that culminated in Lamar Miller’s TD run and a quick 7-0 lead.
The Texans weren’t able to sustain that momentum, allowing the Ravens to win for the first time this season in a game where they trailed. The reasons were plenty — turnovers, poor decision-making, injuries that have made Houston’s job more difficult — but the bottom line is the Texans weren’t able to build on the early advantage against an offense that was struggling as much as theirs.
“We had a good opening drive, then I’m not sure what happened,” said guard Xavier Su’a-Filo.
BIG PLAY, RIGHT TIME: Sam Koch says his successful fake punt turned the Ravens’ sidelines into a “fun atmosphere to be around” and was a “big play at the right time.”
With the Ravens seemingly poised to punt for the fourth time in four series, Koch instead whipped a 22-yard completion to Chris Moore to set up Baltimore’s first touchdown.
Moore was tangled up with the defense early in the play but was able to break free and find the ball.
Harbaugh was thrilled with Koch’s toss, saying with a smile, “He’s definitely leading the league’s quarterback ratings.”
ONE GOAL: Flacco said the team cannot be content with just making the postseason.
“We want to win the Super Bowl,” he said. “I’ve been in this league long enough to know, if you don’t win the Super Bowl, it doesn’t mean anything. If we believe we can win the Super Bowl with how we’re playing right now, I’m all for it.”
Flacco, who won the Super Bowl with the Ravens after the 2012 season, said some might not think it’s “super-realistic” for this year’s team to reach the title game but he remained hopeful.
“We need to go out there, we need to go get it,” he said.
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