It certainly wasn’t a major surprise that the Baltimore Ravens defeated our Houston Texans 20-13 Sunday afternoon in the AFC Divisional Playoffs because they were favored by the Las Vegas Boys to win by 7 ½ points.

But what stunned the so-called “experts” was the fact the Texans outplayed the Ravens in almost every aspect of the game except one—turnovers. Those mistakes led to 17 of Baltimore’s points and its right to advance and meet the top-seeded New England Patriots in Foxborough Sunday, with the winner representing the AFC in Super Bowl XLVI.

Rookie third-string quarterback T. J. Yates was picked off three times by the clever Ravens’ secondary. But those three interceptions didn’t cause the Texans’ loss as much as the bone-headed decision by punt-returner Jacoby Jones to try to pick up the football after he let it bounce a couple of times, causing a fumble that was recovered by Baltimore.

So instead of the Texans forcing the Ravens to punt on their first possession, the fumble instead gave Baltimore a first down at the two-yard line, which quickly turned into a 7-3 lead that Houston was never able to overcome.

Almost a non-factor in Baltimore’s victory was quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice who were held in check beautifully by Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ game plan.

Houston’s young and tenacious defense held the Ravens in check most of the game, with Flacco scrambling for his life on numerous occasions. He was sacked five times and a hurried during most of the game.

A pair of rookies, defensive end J. J. Watt and linebacker Brooks Reed, combined for five sacks, 20 tackles, five quarterback hurries and four tackles for losses to lead the way for the Texans’ defense.

The offense was led by running back Arian Foster’s 132 yards on 27 carries and the Texans’ only touchdown while often-injured wide receiver Andre Johnson hauled in eight passes for 111 yards.

Foster had 95 yards rushing in the first half. The playoff record for yards rushing against the Ravens in a game was 91 by Tennessee’s Eddie George in 2000.

“We did the one thing we couldn’t do to come in here and win,” Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak told the Houston Chronicle after the game. “We had four turnovers, and then you don’t give yourself a chance. Right now, with our football team, if we don’t turn the ball over, we are pretty tough to beat.”

Owner Bob McNair said, “This was an unbelievable season. We made so much progress. It hurts to lose, but we’re going to learn from our mistakes and move on. I think our fans fell in love with this team this season. I think they appreciate what we’re able to do. We’ll be back next season and we’ll be even better.”

The home team emerged victorious in the first seven playoff games during the past two weekends until Sunday’s final game at Green Bay where the 15-1 Packers discovered like the Texans did that mistakes cost victories. They were upset at Lambeau Field 33-20 by the rapidly-improving New York Giants.

The other upset last weekend occurred at Candlestick Park where the San Francisco 49ers surprised the 3-point favored New Orleans Saints 36-32 and will host the Giants in the late game Sunday for the NFC championship as a 2 ½-point favorite.

The 49ers won the right to continue in the playoffs when quarterback Alex Smith fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis with nine seconds left in the game.

It appeared the Saints had pulled another game out of the fire when quarterback Drew Brees connected with 6-6 tight end Jimmy Graham on a 66-yard scoring bomb with 1:37 left, putting New Orleans in front 32-29.

In Saturday’s late game, New England quarterback Tom Brady didn’t give Tim Tebow a chance to pull his magic act for Denver as the Patriots rolled up 35 points in the first half and glided to an easy 45-10 victory over the Broncos. The Pats are favored by 7 ½ points over the Baltimore Ravens Sunday.

It appears the Las Vegas Boys expect New England to be playing San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVI. However, this Korner believes that the red-hot New York Giants will pull off another upset Sunday in a high scoring game and win 34-28. We’re not sold on New England either, but Brady should pull them through 27-23.

KWICKIES…The collegiate basketball world seems to be dominated by a pair of undefeated teams with Syracuse topping the Men’s Top 25 Poll with a 19-0 record going into Monday’s game against Pittsburgh. The Baylor Lady Bears are the No. 1 team in the Women’s Top 25 Poll with a 17-0 mark after cruising past the Texas Lady Longhorns 76-55 last weekend.

Some high school football fans were critical of Craig Stump leaving a good head football coaching job at West Brook High School for a similar post at Atascocita High School. But it was far from a sideward move, getting away from that wacky BISD and working for the Humble ISD. At least he will have access to a field house and weight room facilities, unlike that half-finished mess he’s leaving behind.

The American League champion Texas Rangers have been talking with free-agent slugger Prince Fielder in hopes of inking him to a 2012 contract. From this Korner it appears the Rangers’ biggest problem in the scenario will be Fielder’s agent Scott Boras who usually wants the whole galaxy when you’re just offering the moon.

JUST BETWEEN US…Former West Orange-Stark miler Michael Defee finished 20th in Sunday’s Chevron Houston Marathon. The Vidor resident covered the 26.2 mile course with a time of 2:35:11, compared to Tariku Jufar’s winning time of 2:06.51. Orange’s 70-year old marathon enthusiast Kenny Ruane had to skip this year’s event because of an aggravating foot injury but plans to be back next year. He has run in 24 Houston Marathons and would like to complete 25 before he retires from the sport.