By Aaron Wilson, The Baltimore Sun
9:19 PM EDT, October 21, 2012
— The breakdowns within the Ravens' offensive line unraveled in a few different ways against the formidable Houston Texans.
In the first quarter, it was Texans outside linebacker Connor Barwin unloading on unsuspecting quarterback Joe Flacco in the end zone for a safety. Barwin was left unblocked by the offensive line as left offensive tackle Michael Oher and running back Ray Rice both moved to their right in pass protection.
It was one of four sacks the Ravens allowed along with eight quarterback hits during a 43-13 defeat Sunday before an energized crowd at Reliant Stadium.
"They put some pressure on us," Flacco said. "They definitely tried to bring a couple of guys there. They were coming at us and doing what they do. We probably just didn't execute as well as we think we should have."
Flacco also had two interceptions and both came off of tipped passes.
It was a chronic problem for the Ravens as defensive end J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus deflected Flacco passes intercepted by defensive backs Johnathan Joseph and Glover Quin.
Joseph returned his interception in the second quarter 52 yards for a touchdown, his fourth interception of Flacco in his past five games against the Ravens dating back to his time with the Cincinnati Bengals.
"That's what they do," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of the deflections. "They do a good job with that. We've worked on it all week, trying to get their hands down and we were unable to do it. I was a little disappointed."
Rookie offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele said the Texans' front seven would retreat away from the line of scrimmage whenever their initial charge was unsuccessful. Then, they would leap high into the air to knock down passes.
"There's nothing really you can do in that situation," Osemele said.
In particular, Watt is an imposing presence at 6-foot-5, 295 pounds. He leads the NFL with 9 1/2 sacks and had two pass deflections Sunday.
"They are big guys," Flacco said. "Sometimes, they stop rushing the quarterback and they try to get their hands up. People asked me before the game: 'What are you guys going to do? There's not really much you can do.
"They had a lot of batted balls. We have to take a look at it and see how we can maybe prevent it better."
In the second half, veteran offensive guard Bobbie Williams was beaten for sacks on consecutive plays by defensive lineman Antonio Smith.
"They're good, I'm not going to take anything away from them," Williams said. "They played better than we did. We got to get better and we will."
Jacoby Jones drowns out boos
Texans' fans hadn't forgotten about former Houston return specialist Jacoby Jones losing a fumble while trying to catch a punt during the Ravens' AFC divisional playoff victory last January.
That miscue led to a Ravens touchdown, rendering Jones an unpopular figure in Houston.
The Texans cut Jones this spring, and he signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Ravens.
Jones blocked out the boos Sunday, returning a kickoff 47 yards and averaged 32.7 yards on six kickoff returns.
Asked if the crowd's disapproval bothered him, Jones replied: "No, I like that type of [stuff]. I actually took it like another game. It really didn't bother me. I was humble. I wasn't all riled up. I was ready to play football, period."
Jones entered the game riding high after tying an NFL record with a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys last week.
Jones acknowledged there were some words exchanged with his former teammates.
"They know me," Jones said. "They were taking them big angles. They knew they weren't going to catch me if I get past their [butt]. There was a little trash-talking."
Osemele avoids serious injury
Osemele was certain he had broken his right ankle when he was carted off the field in the first half and brought to the locker room for further examination.
Osemele's right leg crumpled when several players hit him from behind in a pile. However, X-rays determined that it was just a sprained ankle and Osemele returned to play in the second half.
"I felt a pop in my knee and my ankle, and I was really worried about it," Osemele said. "I couldn't feel anything. I had so much adrenaline going. I lost so much strength. I definitely thought something was damaged.
"Nothing was broken. I got some [pain-killing] shots in me. Once the pain went away, I finished up the game. I was pretty surprised when the X-rays came back. It was a blessing."
While Osemele was sidelined, left tackle Michael Oher shifted over to the right side in place of the rookie second-round draft pick as former Pro Bowl blocker Bryant McKinnie stepped in at left tackle.
A Houston native, Osemele had several family members in the stands attending the game.
He was hoping to contact them before boarding the Ravens' private charter flight back to Baltimore.
"I'm sure they're worried," he said. "I haven't talked to them yet."
Harbaugh was impressed by Osemele going back in the game after appearing at first to have suffered a serious injury.
"He's a tough guy," Harbaugh said. "K.O.'s got a big heart. Seemed like he played pretty well even with that ankle."
Ngata played through pain
For the second consecutive game, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata had to grit his teeth and deal with a painful sprained right medial collateral ligament.
Unlike the Ravens' 31-29 win over the Cowboys where Ngata managed to record six tackles and a sack, the injury seemed to affect him more this time as he was held to one tackle.
"Time off is going to help, obviously," Harbaugh said. "It's going to help him heal up a little bit."
Starting nose guard Ma'ake Kemoeatu was scratched due to a sprained knee that bothered him all week during practice.
"It just didn't look right," Harbaugh said. "He had fought through it all week, but he wasn't moving as well as we'd like for him to."
Nose guard Terrence Cody started in place of Kemoeatu, who took away Cody's spot during the preseason. Cody finished with two tackles.
"Yeah, I was a little banged-up," Kemoeatu said. "I'll give it a break and get ready during the bye week. I'll be back after that."
Reed downplays rib injury
Free safety Ed Reed landed awkwardly on top of a Texans player's foot in the fourth quarter, suffering a rib contusion.
However, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year returned to play. Afterward, Reed downplayed the severity of the injury.
"It was my rib and kidney, I think they said I took a cleat," Reed said. "It felt like I fell on a shoe or something. It's just really sore right now. It hurt like heck when I was out there.
"I just hoped nothing was broken and I didn't feel like anything was broken. It just kind of cut my wind a little bit, but I'll be all right."
Rookie kicker Justin Tucker booted a 51-yard field goal in the first quarter, setting a franchise single-season record for the most field goals 50 yards and above. ... Besides Kemoeatu, the Ravens deactivated rookie cornerback Asa Jackson, running back Bobby Rainey, offensive tackle Ramon Harewood (migraines), offensive tackle Jah Reid (strained right calf), wide receiver Deonte Thompson and tight end Billy Bajema. ... Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe had a game-high dozen tackles as he started at weakside inside linebacker opposite middle linebacker Jameel McClain. McClain had four tackles in his first game starting at injured middle linebacker Ray Lewis' vacated spot. "Yeah, it's strange," Ellerbe said. "You expect Ray Lewis to be around. He's always been around. It's weird, but we got to step up. We can't do this again."
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun