Joe Flacco threw a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes and the host Baltimore Ravens made the early lead stand up in a 20-13 victory over the mistake-prone Houston Texans on Sunday in the AFC divisional round.
Billy Cundiff kicked a pair of field goals and Lardarius Webb had two big interceptions to help the Ravens (13-4) secure a spot in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday at New England.
Baltimore's defense kept the Texans (11-7) off the scoreboard in the second half in winning its 11th consecutive home game and beating Houston for the second time this season.
Veteran safety Ed Reed snuffed out a late scoring chance with the third interception of Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates with 1:51 to play.
Yates had one final chance but his Hail Mary pass with 11 seconds deflected off wideout Kevin Walter's arm before falling to the ground in the end zone to give Baltimore its first home playoff victory since its Super Bowl-winning season of 2000.
The win didn't come easy against a tenacious Houston defense, which held the second-seeded Ravens to only three points after falling behind 17-3 in the first quarter.
Flacco threw for 176 yards but was sacked five times and running back Ray Rice was limited to 60 yards on 21 carries.
Houston's Arian Foster rumbled for 132 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first running back to reach 100 yards against the Ravens in 16 postseason games.
It wasn't enough to dig the Texans out of an early hole after Baltimore converted two Houston turnovers into touchdowns and turned a 3-0 deficit into a 17-3 lead with 68 seconds left in the first quarter.
A boneheaded decision by Houston's Jacoby Jones to field a bouncing punt resulted in a fumble that was recovered by the Ravens at the 2-yard line.
Three plays later, Flacco flipped a 1-yard scoring pass to tight end Kris Wilson for a 7-3 lead with 9:51 left in the opening quarter. It was Wilson's first reception of the season.
After a 48-yard field goal by Cundiff, Webb picked off his first pass to give the Ravens great field position at the Texans' 34-yard line.
Flacco needed five plays to turn the miscue into points, tossing a 10-yard scoring pass to Anquan Boldin for a 17-3 cushion.
Houston crept back into the game on a 33-yard field goal by Neil Rackers and a 1-yard run by Foster that capped a 12-play, 86-yard drive and cut the deficit to 17-13 at halftime.
Foster had 95 yards rushing in the opening 30 minutes and added four receptions for 29 yards.