The Houston Texans traded blows with the Baltimore Ravens before falling 34-10 in the Divisional Round of 2023 NFL Playoffs on Saturday afternoon.
Steven Sims' punt return for a touchdown meant the Texans and Ravens went into halftime tied, but the home side controlled the second half and advances to the 2023 AFC Championship game.
The Texans won the coin toss and elected to receive to start the game. The opening kickoff was a touchback, and the Houston offense started the game at its own 25-yard line.
A Devin Singletary run was stopped for a gain of a yard. Quarterback C.J. Stroud's pass to wide receiver Nico Collins was knocked away on the right side, to set up 3rd-and-9. Stroud scrambled up the middle for a gain of seven yards, and Cameron Johnston came on the field to punt. He blasted it 54 yards, but the return came back to the Baltimore 25-yard line, where the Ravens offense took over.
Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson carried up the middle for a gain of four yards on first down. Jackson then found wide receiver Zay Flowers for a completion of eight yards, and the Ravens had a first down at the 37-yard line.
Running back Justice Hill carried for a gain of a yard to the right side. Jackson then scrambled for another first down, eluding the pass rush and running up the right side for a pickup of 11 yards.
On 1st-and-10 at their own 47, Jackson threaded a pass over the middle to Odell Beckham, Jr. for a gain of 12 and another Baltimore first down.
Linebacker Christian Harris sniffed out a Jackson run to the right side, dropping the quarterback for a loss of two yards. On 2nd-and-12 at the Houston 43-yard line, Jackson fired incomplete to the right side. The 3rd-and-12 snap resulted in a completion to Rashod Bateman for nine yards. That brought kicker Justin Tucker onto the field for a 53-yard field goal attempt, which sailed right down the middle for three points.
The Ravens were up, 3-0, with 8:36 remaining in the opening quarter. The scoring drive went 41 yards on nine plays, and lasted 4:55.
After the Ravens blasted the kickoff deep into the end zone for a touchback, Stroud and the offense took over on their own 25-yard line. A play-action pass to Singletary over the middle saw the running back catch it and quickly scoot to the left side and ahead for a gain of 11 yards and the Texans' first first down of the day.
Singletary then carried the ball on first down, but was stopped a yard shy of the line of scrimmage. On 2nd-and-11, Stroud quickly fired to Nico Collins for a gain of three yards to bring up 3rd-and-8. Stroud was under duress, rolled right, and lofted a completion up the right side to Singletary for 26 yards and another first down.
A false start on first down pushed the offense back five yards, and on 1st-and-15 at the Ravens' 41-yard line, Stroud zipped a pass to tight end Dalton Schultz for a 9-yard completion. An intentional grounding call pushed the offense back 10 yards, setting up a 3rd-and-16 on the Baltimore 42-yard line. Another false start moved the offense into a 3rd-and-21 situation, and Stroud threw incomplete up the field to the right side. Johnston came on to punt, and he pinned the Ravens into fair-catching it at the 13-yard line with 5:02 left in the first quarter.
Baltimore picked up four yards on a Gus Edwards run up the gut on first down, then gave to Hill, who managed to get four more. On 3rd-and-2 at the Baltimore 21, Jackson scrambled to the right side and threw incomplete, and the Ravens were forced to punt.
Jordan Stout punted it just 24 yards, but a holding penalty on the Texans added 10 more yards to it.
Nevertheless, Houston had its best field position of the day, starting with a 1st-and-10 at its own 45-yard line.
Singletary took a handoff and was stopped again at the line of scrimmage. Stroud's second down pass was incomplete to the right side, and the Texans faced a 3rd-and-10. A short pass to Collins on the right side went for 10 yards and a first down. A false start put Houston in a 1st-and-15 at midfield, and Stroud went to Schultz for a 21-yard completion.
That put the Texans in a 1st-and-10 at the 29 of Baltimore, and a quick throw to Singletary on the left side gave Houston a gain of two more yards. Stroud's second down pass over the middle was nearly picked off, and the Texans were in a 3rd-and-8 at the Ravens' 27-yard line. That became a 3rd-and-13 after a delay of game penalty, and Stroud rolled out and threw incomplete.
Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn came on for a 50-yard field goal attempt, which was good.
The kick knotted the game at 3-3 with 0:28 left in the first quarter, and it was the culmination of an 8-play drive that went 23 yards and burned 2:54 off the game clock.
The Ravens returned the Fairbairn kickoff to their own 24-yard line to start the next possession. The quarter ended with Jackson sprinting 23 yards ahead for a first down.
To start the second quarter, Jackson just avoided a sack by Will Anderson, Jr before sidearming a throw to Edwards, who was upended by cornerback Desmond King for a loss of a yard. But Jackson found Flowers up the field on the right sideline for a completion of 17 yards and a first down. Then Edwards rumbled ahead for a 9-yard gain, and got the ball again on second down, but was stonewalled by defensive tackle Maliek Collins for no gain.
Edwards took the handoff a third straight time and pushed ahead for six yards and another first down. Tight end Charlie Kolar then caught a shovel pass for a pickup of four yards, and Hill got another yard carrying to the left side on second down. Jackson got loose for 15 yards up the middle on third down, and the Ravens were knocking on the door.
The 1st-and-Goal run from the 2-yard line was stuffed by Anderson for a loss of a yard. But Jackson connected with wide receiver Nelson Agholor on the next play, completing the 3-yard pass for a touchdown. Tucker's extra point try was good, and the 11-play, 76-yard scoring drive took 6:14 off the clock and gave the Ravens a 10-3 advantage at the 9:14 mark of the second quarter.
Steven Sims returned the kickoff 22 yards, and Houston was in a 1st-and-10 at its own 24-yard line. Singletary picked up seven yards with a run to the left side on first down. Stroud then threw a screen to Singletary that gained the Texans two more yards. The running back got the ball again on third down, but was tripped up for no gain, and Houston was punting again.
Johnston's 45-yarder was fair caught by Baltimore at the Ravens' 22-yard line with 7:21 left in the half. Defensive tackle Kurt Hinish sacked Jackson on first down for a loss of seven yards. On 2nd-and-17 from the 15, Hill danced to the left side for six yards to bring up 3rd-and-11 at the Baltimore 21-yard line. A 5-yard encroachment penalty set the Ravens up with a 3rd-and-6. But then, Baltimore was flagged for a false start. So on 3rd-and-11, Jackson weaved left and then right across the field, but was stopped by linebacker Christian Harris for just a gain of a yard.
The Texans special teams shined on the next play. Sims gathered the punt in at the Houston 33-yard line, then bursted ahead through the coverage and flew 67 yards for a score. The Fairbairn extra point equalized the game at 10-all.
The Houston defense answered the Sims touchdown by forcing a 3-and-Out on the ensuing possession. An Edwards run was stopped after three yards, and Jackson then threw incomplete on each of the next two plays. The ensuing punt was fair caught by Sims at the Texans' 27-yard line.
On first down, Stroud scrambled left and threw incomplete up the left sideline. A screen to Xavier Hutchinson on the left side picked up two yards, and it was 3rd-and-8 for the offense.
Following a false start, Stroud fired a dart over the middle to Collins, who picked up 29 yards. That duo linked up on the next play for another first down, this time for 16 yards. On 1st-and-10 at the Ravens' 31-yard line, Singletary carried to the left side for a couple yards. The 2nd-and-8 pass by Stroud was intended for Robert Woods on the right sideline, but it sailed incomplete. The Texans called timeout with 0:40 left in the second quarter prior to that 3rd-and-8 snap. Another incompletion followed, and Fairbairn trotted on to the field for a 47-yard field goal try. It had the distance but went wide right.
The Ravens took over on their own 37-yard line with 0:32 remaining before the intermission.
Linebacker Blake Cashman sacked Jackson for a loss of nine yards on first down, and Baltimore called a timeout with 0:25 left in the half. The Texans struck again on the next play, sacking Jackson for a loss of 13. King was credited with that sack. On 3rd-and-32 from their own 15-yard line, Hill took a handoff and burst ahead for a 12-yard gain, but the Texans called timeout and forced the Ravens to punt from their own 27-yard line. It went 55 yards and stopped rolling at the Texans' 18-yard line. From there, Stroud kneeled down, and the half ended.
The second half began with a 37-yard kickoff return by Devin Duvernay, which set the Ravens up with a 1st-and-10 at their own 45-yard line. Jackson went to Agholor on first down for a completion of nine yards to the left hash. On 2nd-and-1, Jackson tossed to tight end Isaiah Likely, who picked up 19 yards on the completion.
The Ravens were at the Texans' 27-yard line, and Jackson carried to the left side for three yards. On 2nd-and-7, Jackson found Bateman for a completion of nine and another first down. At the 15-yard line of Houston, Jackson threw into the end zone and was nearly picked off. 2nd-and-10 saw Jackson burst up the middle for a 15-yard scoring run, and the Tucker extra point put the home team up, 17-10, with 12:04 left in the third.
A touchback set the Houston offense up with a 1st-and-10 at its own 25-yard line, and Stroud went to Singletary on the left side for a completion of seven yards. A run by Singletary on the next play, though, was pushed back for a loss of three yards. Stroud hit Schultz for a 7-yard completion, and Houston had a first down.
Singletary then took an inside pitch and carried ahead for a yard. On 2nd-and-9 from their own 38-yard line, the Ravens were called for a defensive holding, and Houston had a new set of downs.
The ball moved ahead to the Texans' 42-yard line, and Stroud rolled to his right, kept the ball, and ran for a gain of three. Singletary then carried for his longest run of the day, tiptoeing through the line and gashing the secondary for a 16-yard pickup.
It was 1st-and-10 Texans at the Baltimore 39-yard line, and a trick play pass from Stroud to Xavier Hutchinson lost five yards. 2nd-and-15 saw a Stroud pass intended over the middle for Collins get broken up. Stroud completed a throw to Schultz, but it only picked up a yard and the Texans punted. Johnston dropped it inside the Ravens' 10-yard line, and the 36-yard punt was downed by DeAngelo Ross at the Baltimore 7-yard line.
Edwards took the first-down carry ahead for a gain of nine, and followed it up on second down with a 5-yard pickup to the left side. 1st-and-10 at their own 21-yard line saw the Ravens and Jackson have plenty of time to throw, and he hit Bateman for a 21-yard completion.
Then, Jackson found Flowers over the middle for a quick 5-yard completion, and on 2nd-and-5, Hill got three more to the left side. On 3rd-and-2 at the 50, Hill only gained a yard, which set up 4th-and-1 at the Houston 49-yard line. The Ravens kept their offense on the field, and Jackson ran for 14 yards to the left side.
Jackson's first down throw was incomplete over the middle, setting up a 2nd-and-10 on the Texans' 35-yard line. But he found Hill alone in the left flat, and the running back squirted ahead for eight yards.
3rd-and-2 saw Jackson go back to Hill, and he got three yards and the first down. Cornerback Steven Nelson was injured on the play and walked off the field to the sidelines.
It brought up a 1st-and-10 for the Ravens at Houston's 24-yard line, which quickly became a 1st-and-5 after a Texans' neutral zone infraction.
Entering the 4th quarter, the Ravens led the Texans 17-10 and started the final frame with a first down in Houston's redzone.
Steven Nelson was taken to the locker room and was being evaluated for a concussion and was questionable to return at the beginning of the quarter.
After a neutral zone infraction to end the 3rd quarter, the Ravens started with a 1st-and-5 from the 19 and Edwards took it four yards to the 15 to set up a 2nd-and-1.
Jackson rolled out to his right, tucking the ball like he was about to run but stopped and fired it to the endzone for Likely, who climbed the ladder and came down with the 15-yard touchdown. The score was the second passing score of the game for Jackson.
The Ravens scoring drive went 93 yards in 12 plays, which took 7:03 off the clock. Baltimore led 24-10 with 14:23 remaining in the game.
Houston started at their own 25 after the ensuing kickoff. After an incomplete pass, Stroud hit Schultz for a five-yard gain to set up a 3rd-and-5. The Ravens burned a timeout, their first of the half. Coming out of the timeout, Stroud was flushed out of the pocket and was forced to throw it away, which brought on the punt unit.
Johnston boomed a 48-yard punt, which was touched down at the 22 of Baltimore with 13:30 remaining.
The Ravens started their next drive with a run by Hill, which gained nine yards up to 31. Baltimore was flagged for an illegal shift on the next play, which drove them back. Facing a 2nd-and-6 from their 26, Jackson took it himself up the middle and gained 10 yards and the first down. Denzel Perryman was injured on the play.
After a short run by Edwards, Hill took the ball on the next play and went 14 yards up to the 49 of the Texans. WIth a new set of downs, Hill ran it again for a three-yard gain. On 2nd-and-7, Dalvin Cook made his Ravens debut with a 19-yard gain down to the 27 of Houston.
Cook took his next carry for another four yards to keep the ball moving. On 2nd-and-6, Cook was wrapped up for a one-yard loss as Jonathan Greenard wrapped him up. Facing a 3rd-and-7 at the 24, Jackson hit Flowers for a completion, who broke a tackle and took it 11 yards down to the 13. In the redzone, the Ravens stuck with the run as Hill dove up the middle for five yards to the eight-yard-line.
Jackson on the next play, kept it himself around the left end with a blocker in front and took it himself into the endzone from eight yards out for his second rushing score of the game. The touchdown pushed the score to 31-10 in favor of the Ravens with 6:20 left in the game.
Baltimore's scoring drive went 78 yards in 11 plays and took 7:10 off the clock.
Sims took the ensuing kickoff out of the endzone and raced his way up to the 29-yard-line, where the Texans would start their next drive with 6:14 left in the game. The Ravens challenged the kickoff return because they felt the ball was fumbled, but the challenge failed.
After an incomplete pass, the Texans were flagged for holding, which drove them back 10 yards. On 2nd-and-20, Stroud hit Robert Woods for a gain of just six yards. The Texans were flagged for a false start, which pushed it to a 3rd-and-19 from the Texans' own 20. Stroud hit Dare Ogubowale for a gain of 13 yards but it ended up being short of the first down.
On 4th-and-6, the Texans went for it in their own territory. Stroud tried to hit Schultz over the middle but the pass sailed incomplete, which ended up being a turnover on downs.
With 5:04 left in the game, the Ravens started with the run by Cook up the middle for four yards, followed by a rush for a yard. Khalil Davis was able to tackle him for the short gain. On 3rd-and-5, Hill ran to the outside and picked up two yards and set up a fourth down.
The Ravens went for it on 4th-and-3 from the 26, Jackson tossed it to Hill, who took it five yards to the 21 for the new set of downs. Cook ran it to the right for two yards on the ensuing play and get into the Texans redzone.
On 2nd-and-8, Cook ran to the left side and was dropped by Cashman behind the line for a loss of three. The Ravens continued to just run the ball. Cook was dropped for a loss of three yards, which brought up a fourth down and brought on the two-minute warning.
Out of the two-minute warning, Tucker came out for the Ravens and nailed a 43-yard field goal attempt to extend the lead for Baltimore to 34-10 with 1:56 left in the game. It capped an eight-play drive that took 3:08 off the clock.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dameon Pierce was the return man, had the ball knocked out but was able to recover it. The Texans took over at their own 30.
Ogunbowale started the drive with a run to the right side and gained just four yards. On 2nd-and-6, Stroud swung it out to Collins, who was able to take it 10 yards up to the 44. A run up the middle by Ogunbowale would be the final play of the game.
The Houston Texans 2023 season comes to an end with a 34-10 loss to Baltimore in the AFC Divisional Round.