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Houston at Baltimore

Ravens lean on defense, special teams, rock Texans

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

BALTIMORE -- 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 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 interception return for a score.

"It's like a dream; it's hazy," he said. "I remember catching it and running as fast as I can."

Notes
  • Ravens DT Terrence Cody sprained his knee in the first quarter and did not return.
  • Ravens backup RB Shaun Draughn sprained his ankle.
  • Houston was denied in its bid to go 3-0 for a second straight season.
  • Smith became the 19th player in Ravens history to score on an INT return.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Sun. Sept. 22Final
Houston
(2-1)
36009
0177630
TexansRavens
Pass: M. Schaub (25-35, 194) J. Flacco (16-24, 171)
Rush: A. Foster (12-54) B. Pierce (24-65)
Rec: D. Hopkins (6-60) T. Smith (5-92)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
FGRandy Bullock makes a 27 yard kick. Drive: 16 plays, 69 yards in 7:54.
2ND QUARTER
FGRandy Bullock makes a 29 yard kick. Drive: 5 plays, 18 yards in 2:35.
FGJustin Tucker makes a 28 yard kick. Drive: 11 plays, 62 yards in 4:52.
TDDaryl Smith makes a 37 yard interception return (Justin Tucker kick is good).
TDTandon Doss runs 82 yards for a punt return (Justin Tucker kick is good).
FGRandy Bullock makes a 47 yard kick. Drive: 5 plays, 51 yards in 0:45.
3RD QUARTER
TDBernard Pierce runs for 1 yard (Justin Tucker kick is good). Drive: 9 plays, 80 yards in 3:55.
4TH QUARTER
FGJustin Tucker makes a 45 yard kick. Drive: 13 plays, 69 yards in 6:15.
FGJustin Tucker makes a 43 yard kick. Drive: 9 plays, 26 yards in 3:51.

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Players of the Game
Baltimore

B. Pierce
Rush 24
Yds 65
Avg 2.7
TD 1
Houston

D. Hopkins
Rec 6
Yds 60
Avg 10.0
TD 0
 
Houston
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Schaub25/3519401
RushingATTYDSTDLG
A. Foster1254010
B. Tate936010
C. Wood2403
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
D. Hopkins660018
A. Johnson536012
K. Martin235018
O. Daniels529013
D. Posey329014
B. Tate3706
A. Foster1-20-2
Baltimore
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
J. Flacco16/2417100
RushingATTYDSTDLG
B. Pierce2465125
V. Leach3805
S. Draughn4203
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
T. Smith592048
D. Clark446021
V. Leach21107
B. Stokley1909
B. Pierce2705
M. Brown2604
Complete Player Stats
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KC 26 Final
PHI 16
NYG 0 Final
CAR 38
GB 30 Final
CIN 34
STL 7 Final
DAL 31
CLE 31 Final
MIN 27
TB 3 Final
NE 23
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NO 31
SD 17 Final
TEN 20
DET 27 Final
WAS 20
ATL 23 Final
MIA 27
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NYJ 27
IND 27 Final
SF 7
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SEA 45
CHI 40 Final
PIT 23
OAK 21 Final
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