Ravens fall flat in Houston
Image Credit: AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Jose Yau

The Baltimore Ravens traveled to Houston looking to start the season 6-1 and head to the bye week with the best record in the AFC.

Instead, they leave Houston having suffered the largest margin of defeat in the John Harbaugh era, getting pummeled 43-13 by the Texans. In 2008, the first year under John Harbaugh, the Ravens fell 31-3 to the Indianapolis Colts, the previous largest-margin defeat.

The Ravens were beaten in every facet of the game; Matt Schaub threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Arian Foster scored twice and rushed for 98 yards. The Texans set franchise records in points scored (43) and total yards (420) in this game. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked four times and threw two interceptions. It was not pretty.

Quarterbacks: F

If the Ravens want to win the big one, they have to start by getting consistent play out of the leader on the offensive side of the ball. Joe has been inconsistent on the road this season and took that a step further in this one. Say what you want about the play calling (that wasn’t good either) but the players play on the field, and the execution was poor.

There were no adjustments made from Joe in this one. I lost count how many times he threw into the defenders arms who were jumping up and swatting the passes away. He just wasn’t into a good rhythm all day. The line didn’t help to give him time either, but when they did, Joe looked uncomfortable and threw behind, over, under his intended targets.

Running Backs: C-

Ray Rice, the workhorse of this offense, ran the football nine times. Nine. Meanwhile, Flacco threw the ball 43 times. We’ve seen the same story this season, that will not get it done. When Rice got the football, he ran hard and created because the line didn’t give him much to work with.

27 of Rice’s 42 yards rushing on the day came during the first drive of the game. The Ravens abandoned the run early and never really got it going again.

Wide Receivers: D-

No one really stood out in this game. The receivers created zero separation on the Houston defenders. Dennis Pitta appeared in the 2nd half to help Flacco out. The one play that was executed to near perfection was the screen to Tandon Doss that turned into a 15-yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter.

Offensive Line: F

Once Kelechi Osemele left the game early with a right ankle injury, the line was in trouble. He was able to get back into the game, but wasn’t the same player.

The Texan front completely dominated the Ravens offensive line, especially up the middle. Antonio Smith was an absolute nightmare, sacking Flacco twice in this game. Matt Birk got abused up the middle and the interior wasn’t supportive either. This may have been Michael Oher’s worst game of the season, and we’re not even talking about penalties.

Defensive Line: F

This group is struggling so mightily, they’re looking for something positive to go on. But there’s nothing there. They weren’t able to get off blocks and push up on Houston’s line which is something that worried me coming into this game.

It’s quite amazing Matt Schaub didn’t throw for more yards and touchdowns than he did. Because there was no initial push from the line, Schaub had an incredible amount of time finding his receivers in just about every way.

Linebackers: C

Terrell Suggs defied medical science by not only playing in this game, but playing at a high level. He recorded his first sack of the season and harassed Matt Schaub. Even at 85-90%, he was the best Raven defender on the field.

Dannell Ellerbe had his finest game of the season, recording 12 total tackles. Most of those tackles were down field though.

Secondary: F

The defensive line was mentioned earlier in this piece, and they weren’t helping the cause. That doesn’t absolve the secondary from a putrid performance though.

Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith played off the ball far too much and so Schaub took advantage with under routes. When they weren’t playing off the ball, they were getting beaten with double moves all day long. Texans WR Kevin Walter beat Smith on a double route for a touchdown in the 1st quarter.

Special Teams: A

Jacoby Jones had himself a nice return to Reliant Stadium where he was booed all afternoon long. That didn’t matter as he ripped off a 47-yard run on a kickoff and averaged just about 33 yards in returns. Justin Tucker showed off his impressive strong leg, kicking field goals from 51 and 54 yards.

Coaching: F

Woof. The Ravens were outplayed and out-coached in this one. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron got away from the run too quick, but Houston’s aggressive defense helped to stifle that as well. Houston scored nine points in the 1st quarter, but after that, they went wild and defensive coordinator Dean Pees didn’t have any adjustments that worked. It was the Texans day. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the opponent.

Final Take

This was an ugly, ugly game for the Baltimore Ravens. I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to have a bye week. The Ravens need the offense to take pressure off the defense which is under fire, and the way to do that is to run the football. You simply cannot win in the NFL running the football nine times. Maybe you can get away with it against lesser opponents, but not the Houston Texans.



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