HOUSTON -- Jeff Blake and Matt Stover helped the Baltimore Ravens keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
Blake threw two touchdown passes and Stover kicked three field goals, the last with 6:48 to play, as the Ravens beat Houston 23-19 Sunday.
|Ravens WR Travis Taylor makes the TD grab despite the efforts of Eric Brown and Aaron Glenn.(AP)|
The Ravens (7-7), who won the 2001 Super Bowl, have games remaining against two AFC North opponents. They play host to Cleveland (7-7) on Sunday and close out the regular season Dec. 29 at the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1).
"We went on the road in a playoff hunt and executed what you have to do to win a game," coach Brian Billick said. "They did an outstanding job. I like the way they answered some situations. It bodes well for this team now and in the future."
The Ravens led 13-7 at halftime on Stover's two kicks of 22 yards each, and Blake's 26-yard touchdown pass to Travis Taylor and Blake's 11-yard TD pass to Chester Taylor with 3:33 left in the third quarter made it 20-7.
"We're getting better all the time," Travis Taylor said. "We've really been coming along lately, but we have no choice. This is crunch time. This is playoff time. We have to do it now."
The Texans (4-10) got a little momentum back when Avion Black, subbing for injured Jermaine Lewis, returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown with four seconds left in the third quarter.
Stover added his third field goal, a 47-yarder, following a 57-yard drive that ended when a third-down pass by Blake tipped Chester Taylor's fingertips with 6:48 left in the game.
The Texans cut it to 23-17 with 2:56 to go on Kris Brown's 41-yard field goal, ending a drive that was aided by a 20-yard reception by tight end Billy Miller after the Texans asked for a review of the play.
Houston got two more points on a safety with 2:19 left. Houston's chances ended moments later when Chad Williams intercepted a pass by David Carr with 1:57 left.
"As you go later into the season, you have higher expectations," Texans coach Dom Capers said. "We are down to the last two or three performances, and we weren't consistent enough to give our best performance."
Carr was sacked twice in the game, leaving him two sacks short of the NFL record of 72 set by Randall Cunningham in 1986. Carr completed 19 of 34 passes for 196 yards.
"There were plays out there that we've got to make but we were coming up just one guy short," Carr said. "We could have done better."
Baltimore got a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on Stover's field goal following a 20-yard interception return by Ed Reed to the Houston 12, where the Texans' defense stiffened and forced the field goal.
The Houston offense showed early signs of breaking out of last week's inept performance against Pittsburgh. The Texans won 24-6 but managed only 47 total yards on offense, an NFL record for fewest yards in a winning effort.
The Texans drove a club-record 91 yards in 13 plays before Wells' 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. With four minutes left in the first quarter, the Texans surpassed last week's total offense on a 9-yard reception by Cory Bradford.
It was only Bradford's second catch in four games. When the Texans scored in the second quarter, it was the offense's second touchdown in 13 quarters.
Blake completed 18 of 30 passes for 228 yards, didn't throw an interception and escaped being sacked.
"We are doing what it takes to win and on some Sundays in this league that is good enough," Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware said. "We're still alive."
- The Ravens are 4-0 in games Jamal Lewis rushes for 100 yards, and they are 5-2 in game he carries 20 or more times. He had carries for 49 yards Sunday.
- Carr's first quarter interception was his first in 94 consecutive pass attempts, his second-longest string of the season. He earlier threw 97 passes without a pick.
- Black's 76-yard punt return for a touchdown was the first of his four-year career and the first for the expansion Texans.
The Associated Press News Service
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