Texans beat Bengals, Packers rout Vikings

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Texans beat Bengals, Packers rout Vikings

More rematches ahead.

After Green Bay routed Minnesota 24-10 Saturday night, it set up a trip to San Francisco. The 49ers beat the Packers at Lambeau Field to open the season.

The Packers didn't let 2,000-yard rusher Adrian Peterson run over them again. Indeed, Packers fullback John Kuhn had a bigger impact with two touchdowns.

And the Houston Texans are heading back to New England, where their season began to unravel. A 19-13 win over Cincinnati on Saturday in the wild-card round means the Texans have a date next Sunday in Foxborough. Arian Foster, the catalyst in the victory against the Bengals, isn't fazed by facing the AFC East champions, who routed Houston 42-14 last month.

Houston (13-4) lost three of its last four games to blow home-field advantage in the conference, slipping to third overall.

New England (12-4) is a 9 1/2-point favorite.

``I'm not a big believer in momentum,'' Foster said. ``Every Sunday you have to come out and bring your best or you can get beat on any day.''

Adrian Peterson and the Vikings didn't bring their best to Green Bay. One week after Peterson rushed for 199 yards to lift Minnesota into the playoffs, the 2,000-yard runner was held to 99. And Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was sidelined by an elbow injury; backup Joe Webb couldn't manufacture much offense.

On Sunday, the Beltway will be buzzing. First, AFC North champion Baltimore hosts Indianapolis. Then NFC East winner Washington plays Seattle.

While Houston heads to Foxborough next weekend, AFC West winner Denver (13-3) will host either Baltimore or Indianapolis next Saturday. NFC South champ Atlanta (13-3) gets either the Redskins or Seahawks next Sunday.

Packers 24, Vikings 10

Ten receivers caught passes from Aaron Rodgers, tying a playoff record, with Kuhn scoring on a 9-yarder. DeJuan Harris also had a 9-yard TD run, and Green Bay kept Peterson in check. It was a turnaround from what the star running back did in his last trip to Lambeau, when he rushed for 210 yards.

It was Rodgers' first home playoff victory.

Minnesota's late touchdown was a 50-yard pass to Michael Jenkins.

Next, the Packers get the Niners (11-4-1), who won 30-22 at Lambeau to start the season. San Francisco is a 3-point favorite.

``They're different as well,'' Rodgers said. ``They're a great defense. Very talented offense as well. It's going to be a very tough challenge for us.''

Texans 19, Bengals 13

Foster gained 140 yards, becoming the first player with at least 100 yards rushing in his first three postseason games. He scored on a 1-yard run and also had eight receptions.

``It only takes one week to turn things around in the NFL and we did that,'' said Foster, whose team lost to Minnesota and Indianapolis to slip to the AFC's third seed.

Cincinnati (10-7) gained only 198 yards and had 12 first downs. Its touchdown came on Leon Hall's interception return.

``It's hard to put it into words,'' Hall said. ``It's disappointing. I mean, we had a good year, but it didn't end how we wanted it to and how we planned it to. At the end of the day, they made the plays that won the game for them.''

With a second straight wild-card loss in Houston, the Bengals extended one of the NFL's longest playoff droughts. They haven't won a postseason game since the 1990 season.

They got two field goals from Josh Brown, and Andy Dalton overthrew an open A.J. Green in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.

Along with Foster's touchdown, the Texans got four field goals from Shayne Graham.

Colts (11-5) at Ravens (10-6)

From Ray Lewis' pending retirement to Chuck Pagano's return to Baltimore to the history of these two franchises, this game has all kinds of intriguing story lines.

Lewis announced this week he will end his 17-year career as one of the NFL's premier players, let alone linebackers, after the playoffs. He's hoping for a long run duplicating the 2000 season, when he was Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP.

``That moment I walk out of that tunnel Sunday, every person that was a Ravens fan - 1996 to this day - we will all enjoy that moment,'' he said. ``It will probably be one of the glorious moments in my life.''

Pagano spent four seasons coaching defense in Baltimore, then landed the head coaching job in Indy. He missed 12 games while undergoing treatments for leukemia and came back last week in a win over Houston.

Now he's back in Baltimore.

And he knows all about the history of the Colts leaving for Indianapolis in Mayflower moving vans in the middle of the night in 1984.

``Yeah, because when this opportunity presented itself, I remember seeing the paper when I left town,'' Pagano joked. ``I was driving a Mayflower out of town, so I fully understand. They had me in the cab, if I remember right.''

Seahawks (11-5) at Redskins (10-6)

Two streaking teams with sensational rookie quarterbacks, making it three such starters in action Sunday; Andrew Luck leads the Colts.

Washington took its final seven games to grab its division title. QB Robert Griffin III (102.4) had the best single-season rookie passer rating in NFL history; Seattle's Russell Wilson was next at 100.0. Griffin also set a league mark for yards rushing by a rookie QB (815).

Wilson threw 26 TD passes, tying Peyton Manning's NFL rookie record set in 1998.

``He's a playmaker. He's a football player. He makes plays running around, like a video game, buying time for the receivers, taking off with the football himself,'' Redskins veteran linebacker London Fletcher said.

He was talking about Wilson; could have been about Griffin, as well.

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Why Ravens feel they made right call with Stanley over Tunsil

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Why Ravens feel they made right call with Stanley over Tunsil

Here are three reasons why drafting left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No. 6 pick made sense for the Ravens:

1. They need a left tackle they can count on, and Eugene Monroe hasn’t been that guy. 

Monroe has been injury-prone the last two seasons, and it’s clear his future with the team is uncertain. Perhaps a healthy Monroe spends another season with the Ravens, and Stanley can play left guard if he struggles during offseason workouts and training camp. But the Ravens drafted Stanley with the intention of him being the starting left tackle. Listen to what coach John Harbaugh had to say when asked about Monroe, and the left tackle position.

“It pans out how it pans out,” Harbaugh said. “May the best man win. We’ll see who that is.” 

2. The Ravens believe they can trust Stanley, both on and off the field.

The Ravens couldn’t miss on this pick, which means they couldn’t risk someone who carries off-the-field baggage. That made the choice between Stanley and Mississipi left tackle Laremy Tunsil easier. Harbaugh is close friends with Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. Harbaugh and Hiestand had a long conversation about Stanley that helped sell Harbaugh.

“He couldn’t speak enough to his character, to his intelligence, to his toughness, and to what kind of football player he was going to be Harbaugh said. 

3. All the Ravens’ plans for next season go down the drain if Joe Flacco suffers another season-ending injury. 

“We just invested a lot in Joe (Flacco ) for the next six years,” said general manager Ozzie Newsome. “We feel like Ronnie comes in with an opportunity to compete, and at some point will be a starter and a starter for a long time for the Baltimore Ravens.”

MORE RAVENS: CHARLEY CASSERLY GIVES A REPORT ON STANLEY

Newsome on Stanley: He was our top-rated guy at time of pick

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Newsome on Stanley: He was our top-rated guy at time of pick

OWINGS MILLS -- After watching two of their top defensive targets go off the board – defensive end Joey Bosa to San Diego at No. 3 and defensive back Jalen Ramsey to Jacksonville at No. 5 – the Ravens went on the offensive, selecting Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley with the sixth overall pick in the draft.

The move gives the Ravens a potential long-term anchor on Joe Flacco’s blind side, but in picking Stanley, the Ravens chose not to immediately address their defensive concerns, bypassing Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner – who went No. 7 overall to the 49ers — and also opted against Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil, who many considered a potential No. 1 overall pick.

General manager Ozzie Newsome said Stanley was the Ravens top-rated player when they picked and dismissed concerns about not drafting defense first.

“Well we got eight picks,” Newsome said, “and we got a good board.”

Assuming the Ravens do not trade back into the first round, the Ravens will next pick at No. 36 overall.

As for Tunsil, he became one of the stories of the draft when, minutes before the draft began, a video surfaced on his Twitter feed that appeared to show him wearing a gas mask and smoking something from a bong. The Twitter account was deleted. 

Tunsil fell out of the top 10 and was selected by the Dolphins at No. 13 overall.

Newsome implied the Ravens already had concerns about Tunsil.

“Our scouts get a lot of information and when things happen, a lot of times we’re not surprised,” Newsome said after the Ravens selected Stanley. “So, we took the best player, the player who was rated highest on the board at that point.”

MORE RAVENS: VIDEO POSTED MINUTES BEFORE DRAFT HURTS TUNSIL

Ravens get offensive - select Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley

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Ravens get offensive - select Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley

With the sixth pick in the draft, the Ravens selected left tackle Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame. Stanley will be expected to become a starter as a rookie, protecting quarterback Joe Flacco’s blind side. The addition of Stanley further clouds the Ravens future of left tackle Eugene Monroe, who has struggled to stay healthy the past two seasons.

Strengths: Stanley was an excellent pass blocker in college, and was improving as a run blocker. Scouts thought he was good enough to turn pro a year ago, but Stanley returned for his senior year. That should help him be NFL-ready by Week 1, and Stanley also impressed teams at the combine with his aptitude and demeanor during interviews.

Weaknesses: Stanley is not the most physical offensive lineman, and could be overpowered at times early in his career. If he has a rough day in training camp, or once the games start, does Stanley have a short enough memory to bounce back quickly?

Bottom line: This was a smart pick for the Ravens.  Stanley is a safer choice at left tackle than Tunsil, and all of the Ravens’ plans for next season go up in smoke again if Flacco suffers another serious injury. Taking a player who can help keep Flacco healthy next season and beyond, and is step toward the Ravens reestablishing themselves as consistent playoff contenders.