Ravens back at .500 after holding off Texans

HOUSTON (AP) -- Jeff Blake and Matt Stover helped the Baltimore Ravens keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

Question on the Ravens: At this point, is Chris Redman back as the starting QB next season or will there be an open competition?
I don't think there's any question that coach Brian Billick wants Redman to be his starter and is satisfied having Jeff Blake as his backup. Blake is a good QB, but he's not the future for the Ravens. I see the Ravens' offense next season being built around the running game and standout TE Todd Heap.

Question on the Texans: Are they set at running back or will they be on the market in the offseason?
The Texans need a running game to take the heat off QB David Carr, so they certainly could be in the market for a back. Getting the offensive line they originally envisioned back from injury also will be key next season. For a franchise as young as the Texans, no one's job is safe (except for Carr and CB Aaron Glenn). Houston's defense was decent this season, and the Texans were more competitive than many thought they'd be. Next season, they need to make strides toward consistency.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

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

"You have to do what it takes and we came out and did it
today,'' Blake said.

The Ravens (7-7), who won the 2001 Super Bowl, have games
remaining against two AFC North opponents. They host 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 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 in the game.

"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

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

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,'' linebacker Peter Boulware said.
"We're still alive.''

Game notes
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 straight pass attempts and 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.

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