The Baltimore Ravens are one win away from the Super Bowl, after jumping out to a big lead early over the Houston Texans and then holding on late to gut out a 20-13 win.
Now the Ravens head to New England a week from today for the AFC Championship Game, where their defense will have a tough task against Tom Brady and Co. The Ravens’ defense sure looked up to the task against Houston, but then again T.J. Yates is no Brady.
Baltimore’s defense intercepted Yates three times, and a big day from Arian Foster wasn’t enough for Houston. The Texans have put together a great effort since losing their first- and second-string quarterbacks, Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart, but a third-string rookie quarterback just wasn’t going to get the Texans to the Super Bowl.
The question for the Ravens is whether Joe Flacco can get them to the Super Bowl. The Ravens know their defense is good enough, but Flacco may not be: For all his talk during the week that he deserves some credit for what the Ravens have accomplished, Flacco basically just did the bare minimum against the Texans: He did throw two touchdown passes and avoided any interceptions, but he completed only 14 of 27 passes for 176 yards, and even those meager numbers were aided by some superior catches from the Ravens’ receiving corps.
But the Ravens have been to the Super Bowl with good defense and lousy offense before, and they may just be able to do it again. Safety Ed Reed appeared to be hurt on the Ravens’ final defensive play, a Yates Hail Mary pass into the end zone, so that’s a concern, although Reed gave a brief interview to NFL Network as he walked off the field and seemed to be feeling OK.
So this Ravens team can count on its defense. The question heading into New England will be whether the Ravens can also count on Flacco.