Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Ravens suffer worst defeat of Harbaugh era

HOUSTON - Joe Flacco had one of the worst statistical performances of his career, the Ravens' offensive line struggled against the Houston Texans' front seven and Baltimore's defense surrendered the most points during John Harbaugh's five years as head coach.

Not much went well for the Ravens amid Sunday's 43-13 loss to Houston.

The margin of defeat was Baltimore's largest since falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 38-7, Nov. 5, 2007, during the season preceding Harbaugh taking over as head coach.

"Not much to say about that other than they got after us and they beat us," Harbaugh said. "Give them credit. They played excellent and we did not. That's what happens on the road against a good team. We'll have to regroup and get back and play a lot better in the future."

The 43 points were the most allowed by the Ravens under Harbaugh and set a franchise-record for the most ever scored by the Texans (6-1).

Baltimore (5-2) was in its first game without future Hall of Fame middle linebacker Ray Lewis and top cornerback Lardarius Webb.

"We lost to a very good Houston Texans team," Baltimore outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "There's no sugarcoating it. Call a spade a spade."

The Ravens trailed 29-3 by halftime and were outscored 15-3 following Tandon Doss' touchdown catch during the early part of the third quarter.

Baltimore drove 45 yards for a Justin Tucker field goal on its first possession of the game, but was outgained 413-131 after that.

The Ravens were just 4-of-15 on third downs, something that was particularly frustrating to tight end Ed Dickson.

"Third downs," Dickson said. "You have to convert third downs."

There was a point during the second half Baltimore had twice as many drives that had ended in three-and-outs, turnovers or safeties (8) as it had first downs (4).

"Scoreboard. That tells it it all," defensive end Pernell McPhee said. "43-13. That tells it all."

Flacco finished 21-of-43 for 147 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 45.4, one of the lowest marks of his career during the regular season.

He was sacked four times and had five passes batted down at the line of the scrimmage.

Houston outside linebacker Connor Barwin sacked Flacco for a safety with the Ravens leading 3-0 midway through the first quarter. Texans players referred to that play as a turning point in the game.

Prior to that, Houston's offense had picked up just one first down on its first three possessions.

"It's always one play that can ignite an offense, ignite a defense or ignite a team, period," Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson said. "I think that sack that Connor [Barwin] got for the safety was the play. ... Once that happened, everything just fell in place."

The Texans' offense followed the safety with an 8-play, 67-yard drive that it capped with a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Schaub to wide receiver Kevin Walter.

Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph intercepted Flacco on the first play of the Ravens' ensuing possession, returning it 52 yards for a score that pushed the Texans' lead to 16-3.

The pass was intended for wide receiver Torrey Smith, but was deflected by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt at the line of scrimmage and Joseph jumped in front of Smith to pull in the fluttering football.

Flacco targeted Smith and fellow starter Anquan Boldin 21 times, but the two combined for just seven catches.

No Baltimore pass catcher finished with more than 41 yards receiving.

"They ran their regular defense," Smith said of Houston. "I think the biggest thing of the game was batting down passes. They led to a few turnovers and stopped some drives."

Flacco had another tipped pass lead to an interception with the Ravens trailing 26-3 later in the second quarter after the offense had driven to Houston's 36-yard line.

Schaub followed by guiding a 12-play, 58-yard drive in the final minute of the half that ended with a 29-yard field goal from Shayne Graham.

Schaub was 23-of-37 for 256 yards and two touchdowns.

Johnson led the Texans with nine catches for 86 yards. Tight end Owen Daniels added seven catches for 59 yards and Walter hauled in four catches for 74 yards and the first quarter touchdown.

Houston also had 181 rushing yards, averaging nearly five yards per carry.

Arian Foster totaled 98 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

Baltimore has given up 622 rushing yards in its last three games.

"It's frustrating because we didn't play great as a whole," Williams said. "Defense, offense didn't come to play today."

The Ravens have a bye next week before traveling to face the Cleveland Browns (1-6) Nov. 4.

"It's sad that we didn't get the job done, but we're going to right the ship during the break," Williams said. "Hopefully we can get things together."