The Baltimore Ravens moved into first place in the AFC North after a 30-9 win against the Houston Texans on Sept. 22 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.
The win was critical for the Ravens (2-1), who re-established themselves as one of the better teams in the league by beating a Texans team considered to be a Super Bowl contender. Baltimore dominated Houston in all facets of the game, scoring a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams.
The Texans (2-1) led 6-3 early in the game after kicking two field goals in the first quarter. But Baltimore took a 10-6 lead in the second quarter when Ravens linebacker Darryl Smith intercepted a pass from Houston quarterback Matt Schaub and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. The Ravens pushed the lead to 17-6 a minute later when receiver Tandon Doss returned a punt 82 yards for a special teams touchdown.
Houston cut the lead to 17-9 with another field goal right before halftime, but that would be the Texans’ last points of the game. The Ravens, however, went on to score an unanswered 13 points, including a 1-yard touchdown run from running back Bernard Pierce.
Ravens Player of the Game: Darryl Smith
Smith was the best player on the field for the Ravens for the second straight week. He had a game-high 11 tackles against the Browns last week, and this week he led Baltimore with 10 tackles. Smith also made the biggest play of the game, scoring a “pick-six” on a Schaub interception, which shifted momentum in favor of the Ravens. It was the first interception returned for a touchdown in Smith’s 10-year career.
Unsung Hero of the Game:
Smith’s touchdown was the biggest play of the game, but Doss’ 82-yard punt return for a touchdown was nearly as impressive. Doss, a four-year Ravens veteran celebrated his 24th birthday on game day, and had actually been cut from the Ravens roster a week before the season started when he struggled in the preseason. Doss was once expected to fill the void left by the departure of former Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin, but he wasn’t able to generate any chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco during the preseason. However, Doss was brought back when return specialist Jacoby Jones was injured in the season opener against the Denver Broncos—now, instead of replacing Boldin, he’s replacing Jones. If Doss keeps up the production as the primary punt returner, he may end up earning more playing time as a receiver.
More Game Notes: Flacco had a modest game, completing 16 of 24 passes for 171 yards and throwing neither a touchdown nor an interception. Running back Ray Rice did not play due to a hip injury, so second-year running back Bernard Pierce carried the load, running for 65 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Third-year receiver Torrey Smith led the Ravens with five catches for 92 yards.
The Ravens’ defense didn’t allow a touchdown for the second straight week; the last touchdown they allowed came in the season opener three weeks ago against the Broncos.
The Ravens celebrated the induction of retired legendary linebacker Ray Lewis into the team’s Ring of Honor. A short ceremony was held during halftime, during which team owner Steve Biscotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome unveiled the banner of Ray Lewis’ name located among other Ring of Honorees high up in the stadium bowl.
Next-up: The Ravens will travel to Buffalo, N.Y on Sunday Sept. 29 to face the Buffalo Bills (1-1).