RavensbeatTexans

Daryl Smith’s big INT sets the tone for Ravens win over Houston, 30-9….

To those doubters who declared the Ravens' new defensive unit a weak copy of last year's model, consider this— the Ravens "D"  just dismantled probably the most well-balanced offense in the AFC.

ESPN's opening report: "The Baltimore Ravens had scored three points in 27 minutes and trailed the unbeaten Houston Texans. Ray Rice was unavailable, the offense was struggling and the usually boisterous crowd was eerily quiet."

The defending Super Bowl champs were in dire need of a game-changing play, and ILB Daryl Smith was there to provide it. Smith stepped in front of tight end Owen Daniels, intercepted Matt Schaub's pass and took it 37 yards for a touchdown to propel the Ravens to a 30-9 victory Sunday.

Less than two minutes after Smith's pivotal TD, Tandon Doss scored on an 82-yard punt return. And just like that, the Ravens (2-1) were on their way to a lopsided victory against one of the AFC's top teams.

"Two huge plays by the defense and the special teams," coach John Harbaugh said.

The Ravens (2-1) won despite playing without Rice for the first time since 2008. Watching from the sideline with a strained left hip flexor, the three-time Pro Bowl running back was replaced by Bernard Pierce, who ran for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Baltimore got only four first downs and 65 yards of offense in the first half, yet went to the locker room with a 17-9 lead.

"A guy like Daryl makes a huge play and turns the game entirely around," Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith said.

Houston (2-1) led 6-3 before the interception return with 2:39 left in the first half. After a three-and-out by the Texans, Doss eluded several tacklers during his first career punt return for a touchdown.

"Over a four-play sequence, we give them 14 points," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's where the game turned, and we were playing catch-up all game long."

Houston compiled only 107 yards of offense in getting shut out in the second half. After scoring seven touchdowns in their first two games, the Texans were limited to three field goals by Randy Bullock.

Give much of the credit to the Ravens defense, which has not allowed a touchdown in eight quarters since a season-opening 49-27 defeat in Denver. With at least a half-dozen new faces, the unit remains a work in progress.

But this was a significant step.

"We do feel we're as far along as we could possibly be with this group," Harbaugh said. "We haven't given up the big plays."

Schaub went 25 for 35 for 194 yards and an interception. He played much of the second half without wide receiver Andre Johnson, who bruised his shin. "I did not think he could run the way he needs to play, so we took him out," Kubiak said.

Schaub's most lamentable throw was the one that Smith took the other way.

"Poor decision on my part," Schaub said. "You got to be better in that situation, especially late in the half."

Joe Flacco was 16 of 24 for 171 yards to help the Ravens avenge last year's 43-13 blowout loss in Houston.

The Texans fell to 0-4 in Baltimore, including a defeat in the 2011 postseason. Houston came in as a slight favorite, but the Ravens again proved formidable at home, where they're 35-7 since the start of the 2008 season.

The game featured the return of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, who starred for years with Baltimore. Lewis was inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor at halftime, and Reed made his debut with Houston at free safety after signing with the Texans as a free agent in March.

Reed long has been part of great defensive performances by the Ravens. This time, he was on the opposite end.

"Baltimore has a great defense," Reed said. "I told the guys coming into this game, defensively they're going to know every move that you're making, everything that you're doing."

Smith, Lewis' replacement at middle linebacker, knew all about Schaub's tendency to look for his tight end in those situations.

"It was something we saw on film during the week," he said. "We got pressure on the play and I jumped the route." It was his first-ever interception return for a score.

Ravens DT Terrence Cody sprained his knee in the first quarter and did not return. … Ravens backup RB Shaun Draughn sprained his ankle. …

Team Stat Comparison

 
HOU
 
BAL
 
1st Downs 18 16
Passing 1st downs
11 7
Rushing 1st downs
5 5
1st downs from Penalties
2 4
3rd down efficiency
3-12 8-16
4th down efficiency
0-1 0-0
Total Plays 61 57
Total Yards 264 236
Yards per play 4.3 4.1
Total Drives 12 9
Passing 170 161
Comp – Att
25-35 16-24
Yards per pass
4.9 6.7
Interceptions thrown
1 0
Sacks – Yards Lost
3-24 2-10
Rushing 94 75
Rushing Attempts
23 31
Yards per rush
4.1 2.4
Red Zone (Made-Att) 0-2 1-2
Penalties 14-113 10-87
Turnovers 1 0
Fumbles lost
0 0
Interceptions thrown
1 0
Defensive / Special Teams TDs 0 2
Possession 30:36 29:24

 

Baltimore Passing
  C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT SACKS QBR RTG
Team 16/24 161 6.7 0 0 2-10
J. Flacco 16/24 171 7.1 0 0 2-10 63.6 87.3

 

Houston Passing
  C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT SACKS QBR RTG
Team 25/35 170 4.9 0 1 3-24
M. Schaub 25/35 194 5.5 0 1 3-24 17.8 72.8

 

Baltimore Rushing
  CAR YDS AVG TD LG
Team 31 75 2.4 1 25
B. Pierce 24 65 2.7 1 25
V. Leach 3 8 2.7 0 5
S. Draughn 4 2 0.5 0 3

 

Houston Rushing
  CAR YDS AVG TD LG
Team 23 94 4.1 0 10
A. Foster 12 54 4.5 0 10
B. Tate 9 36 4.0 0 10
C. Wood 2 4 2.0 0 3

 

Baltimore Receiving
  REC YDS AVG TD LG TGTS
Team 16 171 10.7 0 48 24
T. Smith 5 92 18.4 0 48 9
D. Clark 4 46 11.5 0 21 7
V. Leach 2 11 5.5 0 7 2
B. Stokley 1 9 9.0 0 9 1
B. Pierce 2 7 3.5 0 5 2
M. Brown 2 6 3.0 0 4 3

 

 

Baltimore Defensive

  TACKLES MISC
  TOT SOLO SACKS TFL PD QB HTS TD
Team 65 45 3 9 6 7

1

D. Smith 10 7 0 0 1 1 1
J. Ihedigbo 9 5 0 2 2 0 0
L. Webb 7 7 0 1 1 0 0
J. Smith 6 6 0 0 1 0 0
M. Elam 5 4 0 0 1 0 0
C. Graham 3 3 0 0 0 0 0
C. Upshaw 3 3 0 1 0 0 0
M. Spears 3 2 0 2 0 0 0
H. Ngata 3 1 1 1 0 1 0
A. Jones 3 1 1 1 0 1 0
T. Suggs 2 1 1 1 0 1 0
J. Bynes 2 1 0 0 0 1 0
E. Dumervil 2 0 0 0 0 1 0
A. McClellan 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
C. Brown 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
B. Bajema 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
J. Simon 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
T. Cody 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Tyson 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
P. McPhee 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
 
 

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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