- Matt Schaub
- Houston Texans
- Texans 19, Bengals 13
- 29-for-38, 262 YD, 0 TD, 1 INT
- Watch Highlights
- Joe Flacco
- Baltimore Ravens
- Ravens 24, Colts 9
- 12-for-23, 282 YD, 2 TD, 0 INT
- Watch Highlights
The Pregame Pressure
The Houston Texans were at a crossroads as they took the field in Saturday's wild-card matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. A regular season that started at 11-1 ended at 12-4, costing the team a first-round bye. Matt Schaub had a lot to do with that slump. The quarterback posted a passer rating of 72.1 or worse in three of Houston's final four games. If the Texans went one-and-done in the playoffs, Schaub would have been viewed as a major reason for the instantaneous collapse of a promising season.
Joe Flacco might not ever put up numbers to earn a seat at the NFL's big-boy table of elite quarterbacks -- but he is a winner. The Baltimore Ravens have made the playoffs in each of Flacco's five NFL seasons, and the quarterback entered Sunday knowing the stakes were high in front of his home crowd at M&T Bank Stadium. After last year's narrow miss in the AFC Championship Game, anything less than a trip to the Superdome in February will be considered a failure. If Flacco had stumbled against the Indianapolis Colts, there was sure to be speculation that he is the reason the Ravens can't seem to get over the hump.
The In-Game Performance
Schaub's day got off to a disastrous start when he threw a pick-six to Leon Hall, giving the Bengals a second-quarter lead. Schaub recovered to finish at 29-for-38 with 262 yards passing in a 19-13 win. Though he did miss a wide-open Andre Johnson on one short end-zone throw and never appeared completely comfortable in the first postseason start of his nine-year career.
In a weekend that saw many quarterbacks miss on several potentially game-changing throws, Flacco proved himself to be an outlier. Baltimore's QB needed just 12 completions to record 282 passing yards and two touchdowns, leading the Ravens to a 24-9 win over the Colts. Flacco didn't turn over the ball and posted a passer rating of 125.6, easily the best rating of any quarterback on Wild Card Weekend.
The Post-Game Pick
Both quarterbacks surely were aware of the criticism that would come if they exited the playoff picture with a whimper. Schaub deserves credit for righting the ship after his damaging early mistake, but Flacco looked far more relaxed on the big stage. The Ravens quarterback hit on several big throws to wide receiver Anquan Boldin and acted like a player who belonged. Both QBs live to play another week, but Flacco wins this faceoff with ease. -- Dan Hanzus