Ravens defense stiffens, Flacco and Boldin do enough in 29-14 win over Texans

October 16, 2011 | Drew Forrester

I’m used to this by now.

I just file the kind of wins we saw on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in the “win is a win” department and move on to the next game.

Really, how else to describe the Ravens 29-14 win over Houston on Sunday?

It certainly wasn’t artistic.  Hell, it was a one-score game with five minutes left to play.  I know I didn’t expect that.  I figured the Texans would buzz in, throw up a decent effort for 15-20 minutes, fall behind 17-3, and call it a day.

That never happened.

Give the visitors credit.  They played right with the Ravens for the better part of three quarters before Baltimore finally put the game away with a late 10-point surge to improve to 4-1 on the year.

Joe Flacco was pretty good, I thought.  Nothing special, but certainly good enough to not get crushed this week by the haters. It was a rather typical home performance from Joe.  I’m not saying he’s become a homer or anything like that, but I’ve grown accustomed to seeing him have these kinds of days at home — 20-33, 305 yards.  He did have a fumble and an interception on his results chart, but for the most part his play was solid enough for me.

Anquan Boldin obviously woke up with the bit between his teeth on Sunday.  I’d say his performance vs. the Texans – 8 catches for 132 yards – was one of his best three games as a Raven even though he didn’t get in the end zone.  I haven’t been overly impressed with him in his 23 games in purple, but Sunday he was definitely a game-changing factor and that was good to see for fans of the Ravens.

I really have to give Houston credit.

Playing without Andre’ Johnson and Mario Williams — plus a number of other injuries to starters/key players — I assumed they’d offer little resistance to the Ravens.

The Texans manned up on Sunday.  If they get Johnson back and he stays healthy (and assuming their QB stays healthy), that Houston team might be a tough out for someone…assuming, of course, they win the AFC South and host a playoff game.

The Ravens, meanwhile, take their 4-1 record down to Jacksonville to take on the lowly Jaguars next Monday night.  Yes, the Jags fought the Steelers tooth and nail on Sunday in Pittsburgh before falling 17-13 but — well, I’ll just channel my inner Glenn Clark here and say:  “The Ravens AREN’T losing to the Jaguars.”

Make that 5-1 for Baltimore after they dismantle Jacksonville next Monday.

For now, though, the Ravens have to be happy about being 4-1 and having most of the key members of their team healthy through five weeks of the season.  Of the ailing starters who matter, only Lee Evans and Ben Grubbs missed Sunday’s game and it would appear both could be on the verge of returning within the next week or two.

If you’re looking for me to pick at something that happened on Sunday and implore the Ravens to improve upon it, I’d suggest two things.  First, the team desperately needs a red-zone passing threat.  Twice in the 2nd quarter when it was 2nd and 15 and 3rd and 15, Baltimore couldn’t execute one passing play that featured some sort of “jump ball” or back corner throw that a big receiver could go up and get.  I still say Ed Dickson is the best candidate for that call, but week after week it seems the Ravens don’t have a red zone plan-of-attack that includes throwing the ball into the corner of the end zone.

The other issue was really mind boggling and potentially damaging, but it turned out to be nothing because the team won by 15 points.  Late in the game, up 19-14, with the Ravens offense on the field and driving, Joe Flacco was calling for the snap of the ball with upwards of 10 seconds left on the play clock.  If you do that four times (Flacco did it three straight times just before the big Ray Rice run that set up the Ricky Williams TD from 4 yards out) and “waste” 40 seconds, that time can be used against you in the final moments of the game.

You wanted me to nitpick, so I did.

But having your quarterback snapping the ball with 10 seconds left on the play-clock when you’re only up 19-14 with 5 minutes left in the game — that’s not smart football.  It’s just not.

So while it might be nitpicking, that has to be something the coaching staff brings to Joe Flacco’s attention this week as the team prepares for Jacksonville.

From here, it’s onward and upward for the Ravens, who should win their next two before heading to Pittsburgh for a big Sunday night showdown with the Steelers on November 6th.