Houston, Texas—The Baltimore Ravens almost blew another one, until their trademark defense saved the game.
Josh Wilson intercepted Matt Schaub's pass and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown in overtime, lifting the Ravens to a 34-28 win over the Houston Texans on Monday night.
"There's always plays that define where you go," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "For us to get that win the way we got it, I'm telling you, if you're not happy, there's something wrong with you."
Schaub threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson and a 2-point conversion to Jacoby Jones with 21 seconds left in regulation to cap the unlikely rally.
Baltimore lost fourth-quarter leads in each of its four losses and had to punt after its only offensive series of overtime. Houston started from its 12, and Schaub was trying to connect with Jones on second down when Wilson picked it off and ran into the end zone.
"I still kind of can't believe that really happened," Wilson said. "I was just saying `Catch the ball, catch the ball, catch the ball,' and game over."
Houston (5-8) has lost six of its last seven.
The Ravens seemed to have the game well in hand when rookie David Reed returned the second-half kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, a franchise record.
Houston mounted two time-consuming drives in the third quarter, but only came away with field goals. Yet the Texans' defense, ranked among the league's worst in every category, held the Ravens to four first downs in the second half and kept Houston's comeback hopes flickering.
The Texans' offense finally came alive after a listless first half. Schaub went 24 for 41 in the last two quarters after going 7 for 21 in the first half.
He threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jones with 6 minutes left to finish a 99-yard drive, the longest in team history.
The defense forced another Baltimore punt with 2:54 left, and Schaub launched the tying drive with a 16-yard completion to Kevin Walter. Schaub went 8 for 10 in the 95-yard march, and also scrambled for a first down.
Johnson managed to keep his toes inbounds on the spectacular 5-yard touchdown reception that made it 28-26, and Jones grabbed Houston's first 2-point conversion of the year to tie it.
"This football team has lost a lot of close games by some crazy situations," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. "Now you're down here playing Monday night football and this place was electric. We quieted it down for a little while but obviously it got amped up in the second half."
The Texans had lost fourth-quarter leads in their previous four losses, all because the defense gave up long pass plays.
This time, the usually reliable Schaub made the late-game mistake that cost Houston a chance to win.
The Ravens seemed as relieved as they were thrilled after Wilson scored. Players on the sideline stormed onto the field, while linebacker Terrell Suggs took off his helmet and walked up to Schaub for a quick conversation. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco also sought out Schaub and shook his hand.
Flacco threw two touchdown passes to Derrick Mason and Willis McGahee also scored in the first half.
On Mason's second score, he sidestepped Jason Allen, then came out of his left shoe on a 26-yard reception just under 2 minutes before halftime. That score, making it 21-0, was set up when Chris Carr picked off a deflected pass from Schaub.
While Baltimore's offense found its stride for the first time in two weeks, the defense was its usual stingy self until the late-game struggles.
Schaub was 7 for 21 in the first half, and star receiver Johnson didn't make a catch until the final 90 seconds. The Texans were 1 for 7 on third-down conversions in the first half.
Johnson got Houston's offense going when he grabbed a 46-yard pass from Schaub for a touchdown less than a minute before halftime to get Houston within 21-7.
Reed seemed to end any chance for a Houston comeback when he fought through Texans tacklers, raced down the sideline and somersaulted across the goal line on his kickoff return.
Reed's home was raided by police last week to investigate potential drug activity, but no charges have been filed.
The Texans settled for a 24-yard field goal by Neil Rackers that made it 28-10 with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter after Jones dropped a ball in the end zone. Rackers kicked another field goal, this one for 42 yards, near the end of the third quarter to make it 28-13.
That field goal came after Walter was ruled out of bounds on a catch in the end zone and the play was upheld on review.
Notes: The Ravens are 16-1 against teams with sub-.500 records under Harbaugh. ... Ravens K Billy Cundiff booted the opening kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. Cundiff is the only kicker in the league with a touchback in every game this season. ... Mason has 53 catches this year and became the seventh player in NFL history to have at least 50 in 11 consecutive seasons. ... Schaub became Houston's all-time passing leader. He has 13,535 yards and surpassed David Carr's 13,391 yards.