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Ravens’ Vertical Passing Game will be Key vs. Texans’ Defense

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(Credits: Dylan Slagle/The Carroll County Times)

The way defenses try to attack the Baltimore Ravens offense is to shutdown Ray Rice and the running game and make quarterback Joe Flacco beat them.

In the first meeting between the Ravens and the Texans this season, Flacco did just that. Although Rice carried the rock 23 times for 101 yards and had five catches for 60 yards, totaling 161 yards, Houston says that the key to the Ravens’ 29-14 win on Oct. 16 was Flacco’s ability to connect with his receivers on long, vertical passes.

“We were with them the whole game except a couple deep passes,” Texans linebacker Brian Cushing said on Saturday when asked about that game at M&T Bank Stadium, via CSNBaltimore.com.  “We’re just going to try to limit them as best we can, get after (Joe) Flacco, apply the pressure, and play better defensive ball.”

Flacco finished the game 20-for-33 for 305 yards and one interception. He set the tone early, completing seven of eight passes on the team’s first drive, a 16-play, 97-yard drive that was capped by a one-yard touchdown sneak by Flacco. Then midway through the third quarter, Flacco completed passes of 51 and 56 yards on back-to-back to drives.

The first was to rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith, which set up a 25-yard Billy Cundiff field goal that gave the Ravens the lead for good at 16-14. The following possession, Flacco opened the drive with a 56-yard strike to veteran Anquan Boldin, his longest catch of the season. On the play, Boldin outleaped Texans standout cornerback Johnathon Joseph. That setup another Cundiff field goal.

Boldin was a load for the Texans secondary to handle throughout the game, finishing with a season-high eight receptions for 132 yards.

Anquan was able to do some things in the slot early on and create just enough separation for me to get him the ball,” Flacco said after the game. “He made some big catches, especially on that long one. I mean, that’s a pretty good job by him, bodying (Joseph) out and making a nice catch.”