This was never about the Houston Texans no matter the fight the Baltimore Ravens found themselves in late Sunday afternoon. A divisional round playoff game against a team you are supposed to beat does little when the real prize awaits far north, halfway between Boston and Providence.
Winning early playoff games is never enough when you do it year after year only to fall short of that first Sunday in February. The Ravens kicked and slugged and wrestled with an inspired, desperate Texans team at M&T Bank Stadium and none of that mattered. Outside of survival, there wasn’t much need to dance. Nobody jumped in victory, shouted to the sky or cued thumping music. That can come at a later time, if a Super Bowl ever comes back.
But the Super Bowl is. And after years of dashed hopes and teases, Baltimore might have its best chance at the final weekend. It has both a defense that can still dominate and an offense resourceful enough to score when necessary. Sunday’s victory was like more than a decade of Ravens wins: close, ugly and somewhat empty of any great promise.