BALTIMORE--In a emotional game that involved the return of Ed Reed, unveiling Ray Lewis' name in the ring of honor, the Baltimore Ravens' defensive plays ushered in the beginning of a new era in M&T Bank Stadium yesterday with a 30-9 win over the Houston Texans.
The Ravens (2-1) won despite the absence of Ray Rice for the first time since 2008 with a strained hip flexor, the three time pro bowl running back was replaced by Bernard Pierce, who ran for a touchdown.
With Ray Rice unavailable, rumors of the defensive woes and offensive struggles loomed over M&T Bank Stadium before kickoff at 1pm yesterday. The Baltimore Ravens scored three points in just 27 minutes and trailed the 2-0 Houston Texans in what was a quiet stadium early on.
When the Ravens looked like they were in dire need of a shift in momentum, Daryl Smith stepped in front of tight end Owen Daniels, intercepting Matt Schaub's pass and ran it 37 yards for a touchdown to go up 10-6.
Tandon Doss scored on an 82-yard punt return two minutes after the defensive touchdown to make the score 17-6.
Baltimore got only four first downs and 65 yards of offense in the first half and still managed to go head 17-9 at halftime.
"A guy like Daryl makes a huge play and turns the game entirely around," Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith said.
The Ravens defense showed up strong against the Texans, not allowing a touchdown in eight quarters since a season-opening 49-27 defeat in Denver.The defensive unit still needs tweaking, but is a work in progress.
Offensively, Joe Flacco was 16 for 24 for 171 yards to get the Ravens by in a somewhat mistake free game with a couple of penalties on the offensive side. For the Texans, Matt Schaub went 25 for 35 for 194 yards and an interception. The Texans offense was not the same in the second half with the absence of Andre Johnson, who bruised his shin.
With the 30-9 loss, the Texans fell to 0-4 in Baltimore, including a defeat in the 2011 AFC divisional playoff game as home field advantage proves to be effective, where they're 35-7 since the start of the 2008 season.