Like us on Facebook & Follow us on Twitter: @PlaymakerOnline
The Houston Texans sent a message to the rest of the AFC when they dismantled the Baltimore Ravens at home yesterday 43-13. They had some problems with their offensive line early on, but the defense showed up to play the way it has the rest of the year and the offense caught up.
We’ve talked about the Houston Texans being the most complete team in the NFL and they looked like it on Sunday, plain and simple. The most important thing that this game did was put to rest any doubt that Houston wasn’t legit, worthy or their record, or a serious contender following the drubbing they took at the hands of the Green Bay Packers last week. It also got them an all-important tiebreaker should they finish the season with an identical record as the Baltimore Ravens. While Houston hasn’t quite “slain the dragon” just by beating the Ravens, at least the true grudge match looks like it will be played in Houston rather than Baltimore.
Another great thing about this game was that it was the first that Houston dominated basically from start to finish. They took an early led, kept pressing their advantage on offense and didn’t let up on defense. It was especially impressive because the Ravens are the best team that they’ve played this season. Their dominance allowed Arian Foster to finally get a bit of a break. Now 20 touches may not seem like a break to most people, but for Foster it is. Foster is the league leader in rushing, but he leads all NFL players in carries by 21 attempts.
He still ran effectively. Foster finished the day with 98 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans as a team averaged nearly five yards per carry as both Ben Tate and Justin Forsett were both effective in relief and mop-up duty in this game. We essentially haven’t seen that all season. Earlier this year we called into question Tate’s effectiveness as a backup, but his injuries appear to be behind him now. He was close to scoring a touchdown in this game, but he’ll get back to the endzone eventually.
But again, this game was about the defense. By taking an early lead, the Texans made the Ravens one-dimensional and hammered Joe Flacco thanks to a great pass rush and solid coverage. Flacco finished the day with less than 150 yards passing, two interceptions, and had to take a safety as well. The pass rush meant that the Texans didn’t have to worry about wide receivers getting free from initial coverage and that Baltimore couldn’t utilize the best running back the Texans have faced all year in Ray Rice. Rice finished the game with 4.7 yards per carry, but only had nine attempts.
JJ Watt was held without a sack, but had two pass deflections, one of which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Johnathan Joseph who had great coverage on Torrey Smith but the tipped ball fell right into his hands and he took off for the endzone. Watt also saw a lot of double coverage which freed up Connor Barwin to get the safety on Flacco and also allowed Antonio Smith to get two sacks late in the game.
There isn’t much more to say about this dominant performance. You wish that Houston would’ve gotten off to a better start offensively, but their defense was there. Houston goes on bye now with Arian Foster in need of a break more than most anyone else. But when they come back, they’ll likely face only two teams that will really challenge them. Just look at their schedule. Of their remaining opponents, only three have winning records: the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, and Minnesota Vikings. Only Minnesota is a home game, but if they win all over their games except those three, that puts them at 12-4 with a first round bye and likely still home field advantage.
Somehow, Houston still isn’t considered the consensus best team in the AFC, but give them a few weeks after their bye week and they should solidify that spot.