It was looking eerily similar to their week two matchup against the Cleveland Browns as their offense was not moving the football and their defense was holding the opposition to field goals, but LB Daryl Smith took it upon himself to provide a spark as he intercepted Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and took it to the house to give the Baltimore Ravens a lead they would not relinquish and turned it into a 30-9 rout.
Smith stepped right in front of a crossing TE Owen Daniels to intercept the pass and ran it back 37 yards for the touchdown. It was the shot in the arm this team needed, and like the old days, the defense provided it.
Baltimore's defense did not allow a touchdown for the second straight week after giving up seven in their first game. Head Coach John Harbaugh is known as a special teams guy, and wouldn't you know it, that unit came through as well.
Less than two minutes after Smith's interception return for a touchdown, WR/KR Tandon Doss received a punt on the Baltimore 18 yardline and made a couple guys miss, found a seem and he was gone for an 82 yard punt return for a touchdown and a 17-6 lead. Baltimore's offense had left the field trailing 6-3 and the next time they would get on the field, they were leading 17-9 (Houston would get a field goal on their drive following punt return for TD).
Despite the Ravens offense entering halftime having only accruing four first downs and producing 65 yards of offense, the team went to the locker room up 17-9.
For the second week in a row, the Ravens defense came out of the half with the intent of shutting out the opposition and they did just that and held the Texans to just 107 yards of offense in the second half. Baltimore's defense has now gone eight quarters since they last allowed a touchdown (fourth quarter against Denver).
Although he did not have a big day numbers wise, Joe Flacco was efficient and took what the defense gave him. Flacco completed 16 of 24 pass attempts for 171 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Coming into the game the Texans passing defense was ranked third in the NFL, but the Ravens offense did not push the envelope and they held onto the football, which was one of the keys to the game.
Playing in their first game without RB Ray Rice since 2008, RB Bernard Pierce took over the starting role for the Ravens and filled in admirably. Although the offensive line could not get much of a push up front all game, Pierce continued to pound the rock as he ran the ball 24 times for 65 yards, but he did pick up a touchdown in the process.
Heading into the game, the under the radar concern in Baltimore was kicker Justin Tucker and if the Ravens had to worry about him as he missed both of his field goal attempts in the Ravens week two win over the Browns. Tucker put those worries to bed yesterday as he was a perfect 3-3, including two over 40 yards (45, 43).
We will of course dive into this game in more detail over the next couple of days, and the bottom line for Baltimore right now is that they are 2-1, in first place in the division, own an important tie breaker over the Texans, and their defense is playing absolutely phenomenal right now. The Ravens will have a good chance at getting to 3-1 next week as they take on the struggling Buffalo Bills on the road in week four.
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