GameDay Preview | HoustonProFootball.com
2002 Record: (6-7) 12.15.02 | 12pm
December 13, 2002
Win Streak Nevermore?
by Jimmy Mohr
The Texans look to win their second game in a row this Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens visit Reliant Stadium. The Texans are coming off an unusual, yet impressive victory over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Texans won, despite an atrocious 47 yards of total offense, thanks to a defense that scored 21 points off three turnovers. The 21 points scored by the defense was 8 points better than the offense had averaged per game all season.
The Texans offense looks to rebound this week against a Raven defense that ranks only 23rd in the league. The Ravens are two seasons removed from a Super Bowl victory that was due to a top ranked defense. But thanks to the salary cap, injuries and the expansion draft, the Raven’s defense is in rebuilding mode. Their record stands at 6-7 and they are out of the playoff race. They have been forced to rely on the arm of QB Jeff Blake, who is past his prime if he ever had one. LB Ray Lewis has finally shown that he is human by injuring his shoulder and is out for the rest of the season.
The Texans have a golden opportunity to build on their huge victory last week and enjoy their first winning streak of their existence. The defense is in top form and is facing a Raven offense that ranks 29th in the league in total yardage. This will most likely be a low scoring affair, with the team that makes the fewest mistakes emerging victorious. The Ravens are 2-4 on the road with wins in Cleveland and Cincinnati and the Texans are 2-4 at home with wins against the Cowboys and Giants. If the Texans offense can manage to score 10 points this week, they will win.
When the Texans have the ball…
Three and out… just kidding. These days, the best offense the Texans have is their defense. The offensive gameplan has been, and will continue to be conservative in an attempt to keep mistakes at a minimum. Along those lines, David Carr has not thrown an interception in 91 attempts and the offense was not penalized once last week. This proves that if the offense can prevent turnovers and costly penalties, a victory is always possible. Having said that, it would probably help this week if Chris Palmer and his offense can generate more yards than a 5th grade Pee Wee football team. Palmer may pull out his bag of trick plays to generate big yards. All Pro Ray Lewis is out for the season with a shoulder injury, a huge relief for the offensive line of the Texans.
When the Ravens have the ball…
Quarterback Jeff Blake is having a mediocre season at best. He has a QB rating of only 70.4 and has thrown eight touchdowns and eight interceptions in seven games as a starter. The Ravens offense is forced to rely on RB Jamal Lewis to handle the load. He carries the ball an average of 20 times per game with a 4.3 average. Lewis is also third on the team with 40 receptions for 404 yards. His downfall is he has fumbled the ball six times in his 13 games played. The Ravens will attempt to control the ball on offense using Lewis and Tight End Travis Taylor who leads the team with 48 receptions for 672 yards. Taylor and Lewis combine for 2/3 of the Ravens offense, the Texans linebackers will have to be ready.
1. Limit mistakes
The Texans defeated the Steelers in Pittsburgh in their first cold weather game of the season last week and gained 47 yards of offense in the process. The key was the lack of penalties and turnovers. Head Coach Dom Capers has stressed all season that his teams needs to win the turnover battle, but last week was ridiculous. The defense can’t be counted on for 21 points each week, but the offense can compensate by not turning the ball over. Zero turnovers will force the opposing offense to sustain long drives to score. The Ravens’ 29th ranked offense has not been able to march up and down the field all season.
2. Get the receivers involved
David Carr completed three passes last week, all to Billy Miller. Leading WR Corey Bradford has failed to catch a pass in each of the last two games and rookie Jabar Gaffney has only caught two in the same stretch. Bradford and Gaffney are assets to this team and need to be utilized more than they have in the past two games. Granted, Carr has little time to throw, but Palmer needs to call quick slants and screens to at least get these guys some touches.
3. Stop Jamal Lewis and Todd Heap
The Ravens’ offense relies heavily on these two players and the Texans linebacker corps will be responsible for limiting their effectiveness. Lewis is particularly dangerous, gaining the bulk of his receiving yards after the catch. The Texans 14th ranked defense is riding an emotional high after last week, which could continue against the turnover prone Ravens. They have committed 27 turnovers in 13 games, 16 of them by fumbles.
Bradford & Gaffney vs. Chris McAllister & Gary Baxter
Bradford and Gaffney were shut out last week by the Steelers. They both have to be frustrated with the direction of the offense and looking to make something happen this week. Bradford has been a huge asset up until the past three games; it would be wise for Palmer to call his number early and get him involved in the game. Gaffney had a huge drop last week negating a first down, his confidence level needs a boost.
OLB’s Kailee Wong & Jeff Posey vs. TE Todd Heap
Heap leads the team with 51 receptions and 5 touchdowns. He is an integral part of their offense and has to be shadowed at all times. He doesn’t get many yards after the catch but he has accounted for 31 first downs. If Wong and Posey can force Raven QB Jeff Blake to look elsewhere, it could force him into throwing intercetptions.
LB Jamie Sharper vs. His old team
Sharper played second fiddle to Ray Lewis during his tenure in Baltimore. While it earned him a Super Bowl ring, he had to leave Baltimore to show the league that the Ravens were not just about Lewis on defense. Sharper will be motivated to show his old teammates just how good he is. HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: The offensive drought continues and the Texans have yet to prove they can play well the week after a win. Ravens 20, Texans 3
Dave: Texans out-ugly Ravens. Texans 13, Ravens 10
Jimmy: Texans’ offense manages to outscores Aaron Glenn this week. Texans 13, Ravens 10
Keith: Ugly and low scoring. The Texans finally make it two in a row! Texans 10, Ravens 9
Ric: Until I actually see the offense do something… Baltimore 14, Texans 6
Warren: The Texans open the roof so that Billick’s ego will fit into Reliant Stadium. Ravens 17, Texans 13
2002 Regular Season Records
Bob 8-5; Dave 5-8; Jimmy 6-7; Keith 9-4;
Ric 9-4; Warren 6-6
TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 339 181 2070 9/11 TEAM 341 183 2114 11/11 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 155 447 2.9 2 TEAM 354 1157 3.3 5 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bradford 35 608 17.4 6 TEAM 183 2114 11.6 11 RAVENS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT Blake 211 112 1377 8/8 TEAM 395 209 2411 15/11 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Lewis 253 1092 4.3 6 TEAM 342 1462 4.3 8 REC NO YDS AVG TD Heap 51 595 11.7 5 TEAM 209 2411 11.5 15 PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review