BALTIMORE (AP) — Terrell Suggs led an aggressive Baltimore defence that kept Houston out of the end zone for the final 51 minutes, and the Ravens went deep in the playbook on offence to squeeze out a 23-16 victory on Monday night.
The Ravens forced three turnovers, two in the final five minutes. After Suggs stripped the ball from quarterback Tom Savage and Baltimore recovered, Justin Tucker kicked his third field goal with 2:53 remaining for a seven-point cushion.
Anthony Levine then intercepted a Savage pass to clinch it. Suggs had two sacks, Alex Collins ran for 60 yards and a touchdown and punter Sam Koch threw perhaps Baltimore’s most significant pass of the game.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called for a fake punt, converted a fourth down with a rarely used pitchout and had quarterback Joe Flacco line up at wide receiver on a play in which Collins took a direct snap.
All of this added spice to a stagnant offence that protected the ball and did just enough to win.
Flacco went 20 for 32 for 141 yards.
The Ravens (6-5) have won consecutive games for the first time since they opened the season 2-0. They are now above .500 for the first time since Oct. 8 and tied with Buffalo for the final AFC wild-card spot.
Houston (4-7) has lost four of five. Savage has started the last four games in place of injured DeShaun Watson.
Savage completed 22 of 37 passes for 252 yards. But he was picked off twice by the Ravens, who increased their NFL-leading total to 18.
Aided by three penalties against Baltimore, the Texans travelled the length of the field and went up 7-0 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller.
Early in the second quarter, after a third-down incompletion, the Ravens appeared poised to punt for the fourth time in four series. But Koch lofted a pass to Chris Moore, a play that went for 22 yards to the Houston 19. That set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Javorius Allen, who reached the end zone with a healthy push from several of his teammates.
An interception by Tony Jefferson was followed by a fourth-and-1 gamble in which Collins took a quick pitch and ran for 29 yards to the Houston 8. Collins covered the final 8 yards on the following play for a 14-7 lead.
The teams traded field goals in the final two minutes before halftime.
PRIMED TO WIN
Baltimore has won 10 straight games in prime time and is 12-1 under the lights since coach John Harbaugh took over in 2008.
Texans: LB Brennan Scarlett (foot) and OT Chris Clark (ankle) left in the second quarter. LB Ben Heeney (hamstring) left in the third quarter.
Ravens: LB C.J. Mosley was placed in the concussion protocol in the third quarter and quickly cleared.
Texans: At Tennessee on Sunday.
Ravens: Host Detroit on Sunday.
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David Ginsburg, The Associated Press