-- For three-plus quarters, the Texans were in exactly the kind of game they expected against the Baltimore Ravens. It was physical. It was back-and-forth. It was right within their grasp.
But Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium slipped away from the visiting Texans in the fourth quarter. They were outscored 13-0, converted only three first downs and were unable to put together a drive longer than 37 yards. A close game turned into a 29-14 loss, and the Texans' record now sits at 3-3 after a 3-1 start to the season.
"I liked the type of game we were in," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "(But) when it counted most, with about 10 minutes left in the game, with a 19-14 game, we quit making plays and they started making plays."
In the Texans' second consecutive game – and loss – without wide receiver Andre Johnson, running back Arian Foster was limited to 49 yards on 15 carries (3.3 average). He dropped two passes, including one on third down in Ravens territory with 11 minutes remaining.
"I played terrible," Foster said. "I didn't play a good game; it was obvious. That will never happen again. I played a bad game. It doesn't matter what the variables are; I played a bad game. As a football player, I didn't bring my A-game."
The Texans had season lows in points and yards (293) against the Ravens, who improved to 4-1 and first place in the AFC North. Houston led briefly in the third quarter after a touchdown pass from Matt Schaub to Jacoby Jones, but Baltimore responded with 16 unanswered points to close out the game.
"We've got a good football team, but they don't give you a damn thing in this league," Kubiak said. "You've got to line up and make big plays to win. When crunch time came in, they made them, we didn't."
The Texans drove into Ravens territory seven times but only came away with points twice. Their first drive stalled at the Baltimore 42-yard line after Schaub threw behind tight end Owen Daniels on third-and-10. Their next drive ended at the Baltimore 45 after Schaub one-hopped a pass to Jones on third-and-eight.
Quarterback Joe Flacco went 7-of-8 for 82 yards on the Ravens' first drive. The Texans stopped Baltimore on three consecutive runs from the one-yard line, but that was negated by two unnecessary roughness penalties on defensive Antonio Smith. Flacco scored on a one-yard touchdown run to put the Ravens up 7-0.
Texans defensive end Tim Jamison sacked Flacco at the Ravens' two-yard line on their next drive. The Texans got the ball at the Baltimore 46 after a punt, but they came up empty when Foster was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-one at the 20. Ravens nose tackle Terrence Cody blatantly grabbed Foster's facemask on the play, but no penalty was called.
Jamison sacked Flacco again on the next series, forcing a fumble and recovering it inside the 20-yard line. Three plays later, Texans running back Ben Tate fumbled at the 1, but left guard Wade Smith jumped on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. That tied the game at seven with 4:48 left in the second quarter.
Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff, who finished with five field goals and seven touchbacks on eight kickoffs, made a 43-yard field goal near the end of the first half. He added a 48-yarder early in the third quarter to put the Ravens up 13-7.
The Texans responded with a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Schaub started it with passes of 20 yards to Kevin Walter and 16 to Foster and finished it with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jones. That put the Texans up 14-13.
It was short-lived lead. Flacco threw a 51-yard bomb to wide receiver Torrey Smith, who beat cornerback Kareem Jackson deep over the middle, just five plays later. That led to a 25-yard field goal by Cundiff, putting the Ravens up by two late in the third quarter.
Flacco started the Ravens' next drive with a 56-yard pass down the left sideline to Anquan Boldin, who made the catch just past a leaping Johnathan Joseph. Another short Cundiff field goal extended Baltimore's lead to 19-14 early in the fourth
On the next drive, former Texans safety Bernard Pollard broke up a well-thrown pass intended for Foster on third-and-eight from the Baltimore 38. The Texans punted and didn't convert another first down the rest of the way.
Schaub was sacked and stripped on third-and-three from the Houston 21 with 7:27 remaining to bring on the punt team. The Ravens went up 26-14 three minutes later on a four-yard touchdown run by Ricky Williams, which was set up by a 27-yard run by Ray Rice.
The Texans turned the ball over on downs with 3:34 remaining on a play that initially was ruled a first down. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh challenged a catch by Jones on fourth-and-four from the Houston 26, and officials ruled the pass incomplete after a replay review, saying that Jones didn't get both feet inbounds.
Cundiff tacked on a 40-yard field goal, and Foster was stopped for one yard on fourth-and-two from the Houston 28 to effectively end the game.
Schaub finished 21-of-37 for 220 yards and one touchdown in the loss. Flacco was 20-of-33 for 305 yards and an interception. Boldin had a game-high 132 receiving yards, while Rice ran for 101 yards on 23 carries (4.4 average). Jones led the Texans with 76 receiving yards on four catches.