At First Glance: AFC Divisional Playoffs writers give their first impressions of the Ravens’ 20-13 win.

Posted by on Sunday, January 15th, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, At First Glance, Divisional Vs Texans, Garrett Downing, Ryan Mink, Sarah Ellison

John Eisenberg: The Ravens were outplayed on both sides of the ball for much of this game, but somehow pulled out the win. That’s all that matters. Just ask the Texans, who will watch the Ravens in the conference championship game next weekend, probably still wondering how they failed to pull off the upset at M&T Bank Stadium. They pretty much followed their intended recipe for success. Arian Foster had a big game. Joe Flacco was sacked five times. But the Ravens picked off three T.J. Yates passes and the defense upped its game in the second half to keep the Ravens ahead. There’s plenty for fans to grumble about, such as the offense’s 45-minute blackout, the soft run defense and the offense’s inability to convert short-yardage opportunities. But again, the only thing that matters in the playoffs is who wins. And the Ravens won. It’s huge.

Ryan Mink: Thank you, thank you, thank you defense! The Ravens’ offense sputtered for three quarters, but the defense bailed it out. The Ravens’ defensive leaders, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, each played awesome. Cornerback Lardarius Webb showed why he’s one of the best in the game with two interceptions. But it wasn’t as joyous at M&T Bank Stadium as you’d expect after Baltimore advanced to the AFC championship because the offense went nowhere. It’s not a good sign heading into New England next week. But, hey, a win is a win – especially in the playoffs.

Garrett Downing: Just like most of the season, it wasn’t pretty for the Ravens. At times, it was downright scary. But when Baltimore got into clutch time, the Ravens defense came through as the offense struggled. As the Ravens took down Houston 20-13 to advance to the AFC championship, the Ravens’ aging stars shined brightest. Ed Reed played inspired and came up with a clutch interception late in the fourth quarter, and Ray Lewis made several key tackles throughout the game. Turnovers proved to be the difference in this one, as 17 of the Ravens points came off turnovers. The Ravens just narrowly escaped, but at this point of the season, style points don’t matter and the Ravens advance to face the Patriots next week.

Sarah Ellison: These opportunities are rare. So for now, all that matters is that the Ravens advance to the AFC championship game. On one of the biggest stages in sports, it was Ed Reed and Lardarius Webb who came up huge. Webb’s two interceptions tied a Ravens single-game postseason team record. And Reed’s pick essentially sealed the win. Fans will be nervous about the lack of offensive production as the team prepares for New England. After scoring 17 points in first quarter – two touchdowns converted off two turnovers – the Ravens offense went cold. The Texans defensive line overwhelmed the Ravens’ front line. It didn’t matter if Ray Rice was carrying the ball or if it was Joe Flacco (five sacks) dropping to pass, the offensive line had trouble winning battles in the trenches. The defense did enough to push through and the Ravens live another day and are still in the hunt for a Super Bowl ring.

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