Ravens kicker Justin Tucker converts a 61-yard field goal to beat the Detroit Lions. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun /December 16, 2013)
If it’s true that the outcome of a NFL contest can be boiled down to the battle in the trenches, then Sunday’s contest between the Ravens and Houston Texans figures to be a test of wills.
Houston boasts one of the most productive offensive lines, a unit that finished the regular season ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards (2,448) and tied for third in rushing touchdowns (18).
“This unit is good because they work well together,” Ravens defensive end Cory Redding said Monday. “In the zone scheme, if you look at them from behind, it’s almost like every one of them is on a string. If they are going to the left, everybody is stepping with their left foot and they are running to the left. If they are going to the right, everybody steps with their right foot and they are moving to their right. It’s like everybody is on sequence. Everybody is running and flowing together. As long as they do that, they have real good days. That’s why they work so well together, because they practice upbeat, they’ve got good chemistry, and those guys are competitive. That’s basically how I see them.”
The Texans, however, did not fare well in the Oct. 16 meeting between these two teams. Houston managed 293 total yards of offense (third fewest total of the season), compiled 93 rushing yards (third fewest), and allowed four sacks (tied for second most).
Redding said disrupting the offensive line will be the first objective for the defensive front.
“You have to break that line up, get penetration, knock them back, use your hands, get off your blockers and make tackles,” Redding said.