The Texans pulled out a decisive 25-13 victory over the Baltimore Ravens and never trailed as Case Keenum recorded his first NFL win.
Bill O'Brien took no credit as head coach in the performance that kept playoff hopes alive for Houston.
"None," O'Brien said after the game. "This is about a team and a coaching staff that has worked really hard. I'm very proud of these guys. I'm very, very proud of these guys."
The Texans took an early 16-0 lead and the defense kept Gary Kubiak's Ravens offense to just 31 net yards in the first half. Houston's defense picked off Flacco three times and Randy Bullock set a franchise record with six field goals.
Keenum returned as Houston's starting quarterback in Week 16, after last week's injuries to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage. Keenum played his first full game with Arian Foster in the starting lineup. Foster rushed for 96 yards on 25 carries and also thew a passing touchdown to rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz.
Keenum completed 20-of-42 for 185 yards, and one interception. Andre Johnson returned after missing last week and led the Texans receivers with six catches for 65 yards. Randy Bullock was a perfect 6-of-6 in field goal attempts and set a franchise record with his performance.
Keenum became the third starting quarterback, after Fitzpatrick and Ryan Mallett went down with injuries, for the Texans in 2014. On the first play of the game, he threw a 35-yard pass to Andre Johnson and led the offense 63 yards in 10 plays. Randy Bullock kicked two field goals from 35 and 25 yards, respectively, to give the Texans an early 6-0 lead.
The Texans put up 161 net yards of offense through the first quarter, the most Houston had in any opening quarter in 2014. Houston's defense held Baltimore to two-consecutive three-and-out drives and just 5 net yards of offense.
"It's just our front seven," Kendrick Lewis said. "Coach (Romeo Crennel) wanted us to play tight coverage and he kept it going. Our front seven was rushing and our blitzes were working. We were covering and giving these guys no outlets."
The Texans defense intercepted Flacco twice on back-to-back drives late in the second quarter.
With 4:58 remaining in the half, A.J. Bouye picked off Flacco first after Jared Crick deflected the pass. Bouye's 2-yard return gave the Texans possession at Baltimore's 16-yard line. Bullock added his third field goal of the day, a 30-yard kick, to extend the Texans lead to nine.
Flacco's pass, intended for Owen Daniels, was intercepted by Kareem Jackson on the Ravens next offensive series. Foster scored the Texans first touchdown of the day, but as a pass to Fiedorowicz.
"The biggest thing was that they brought pressure up the middle, where some of our protection is weak," Flacco said. "They were able to get me on my back foot and force us hot. We never really got anything going and couldn't get into a groove of any kind. We couldn't move the ball, couldn't make any first downs, couldn't get any completions."
The Texans headed into halftime with a 16-0 lead.
The Ravens scored their first touchdown of the game on the opening drive of the second half. A 45-yard return by Jacoby Jones and Texans penalties gave the Ravens a short field. Flacco found Torrey Smith on an 8-yard pass up the middle for a touchdown to end a four-play, nine-yard drive. Baltimore trailed 16-7 with 11:10 left in the third quarter.
In the second half, Bullock kicked two more field goals from 20 and 39 yards. The first capped off a drive that began with another Jackson interception and ensuing 27-yard return.
fter Baltimore was unable to convert on fourth-and-five in the fourth quarter, the Texans took over and Bullock added his sixth field goal of the day, a 33-yarder. Houston led by 18, their biggest margin of the day.
Flacco threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith but was unable to convert the ensuing two-point conversion. He finished the day, 21-of-50 for 195 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.
The Texans improve to 8-7 and will finish the 2014 season against Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday at NRG Stadium.