I’m sure Texans head coach Bill O’Brien will take some heat to kick off in fourth at his own 34 at the end of the first quarter of a game that’s just beginning. When the bet fell through, the Ravens quickly turned the opportunity into a touchdown and controlled the rest of the game to improve to 2-0 in 2020. Why did O’Brien play? He had a case of Raven-itis. Simply put, he knew his team would need to score a lot of points to beat Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, so he opted to try and hold onto possession, set the tone and keep Jackson on the bench. It was not a good idea against the aggressive defense of the Ravens, and for that matter, the false failed attempt by the Cleveland Browns from deep within their own territory in Week 1. What’s going on? The Ravens put so much pressure on their opponents with their high scoring offense, just the idea of it, that these opponents hurt each other with low percentage risks. As if the Ravens, winners of 14 consecutive regular season games, don’t already have enough going for them.
You won’t find a game that better exemplifies what it means to have such superb cornerbacks as Ravens All-Pros Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Humphrey delivered the game’s most decisive play, a punch that knocked the Texans’ Keke Coutee off a reception as the Ravens were up six points in the second quarter. LJ Fort recovered the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown that put the Ravens in control. “Truly the momentum returner in the game,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called. A few minutes later, Peters dove head first to make probably the prettiest interception you’ll see of all season. But just as important to the outcome was what you didn’t see because of Humphrey and Peters. The Texans’ top wide receiver, Will Fuller, didn’t catch a pass and was never targeted. Their other receivers totaled 16 receptions for 181 yards, but that was to be expected with the Texans playing catch all day. The entire Ravens defense has had solid play – stopping the run, flying towards the ball, hitting hard, making plays – but the All-Pro cornerbacks are at the heart of that defense.
Of the 30 games the Ravens played in the first half, only five were transfers to running backs, for 16 yards. Baltimore was in the lead, but I wondered if it was wise to walk away so far from the team’s record rushing attack a year ago, which was so effective. Then he came back strong in the second half, which was, in essence, a comeback in 2019. In the final two quarters, the Ravens kicked the ball to the ground on long practices and crushed hopes of rapidly declining Texans. Gus Edwards, Mark Ingram II and JK Dobbins finished with 176 rushing yards on 21 carries, and the entire rushing game (including Jackson) totaled 230 yards. Ingram made the play everyone will be talking about, a 30-yard touchdown from the Wildcat on a fourth down, with Jackson sidelined on receiver. (Hail, offensive coordinator Greg Roman. I mean, well done.) But Edwards was the team’s most efficient backstroke, averaging him 7.3 yards on 10 carries. You could almost hear him say, “Remember me, please! Indeed, Ingram is the starter and Dobbins is the new one, but Edwards runs too hard and too well not to receive a solid share of the throw-ins.
I’m sure the Ravens’ dressing room was stunned by the news that cornerback Tavon Young will miss the rest of the season due to the knee injury that sent him to the sidelines early on Sunday. Talk about bad luck. A fifth-year player, Young had spent the last year recovering from a neck injury that had caused him to miss the entire season, and he had also missed the entire 2017 season with another knee injury. What’s more difficult about this injury is that Young has come back especially strong after last year’s setback; one of the best corners in the league, he was an essential part of high school. The only positive aspect of the situation is that the Ravens have enough depth to replace him. Anthony Averett came off the bench and recorded four unassisted tackles on Sunday, and Jimmy Smith, still quite capable at 32, made three tackles. The Ravens will go ahead and be fine, but Young is pretty much a shoo-in for their most unlucky player of 2020.
Short catches – The Texans were determined not to let tight end Mark Andrews beat them, and he didn’t, catching just one pass for 29 yards. But for the second week in a row, Jackson completed far more passes to his wide receivers (12 catches for 128 yards) than his tight ends (two catches for 40 yards) as he continues to stretch the field further in 2020 … Jackson completed 18 passes to nine receivers, illustrating the Ravens’ depth of play… The pass rush pretty much passed Deshaun Watson of Houston as the game progressed. Watson absorbed 13 quarterback hits, which is a lot… With one sack, three unassisted tackles and two quarterback hits, Tyus Bowser made the difference on his return to home town. college football… The Ravens’ winning streak in the regular season includes seven straights on the road.