HOUSTON — Ravens tight end Owen Daniels stood in front of his locker, shaking his head in disbelief. During the eight years he played here, the Texans turned in some outstanding defensive efforts, but this was one of their best.
It was supposed to be homecoming for Daniels, Ravens running back Justin Forsett and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. But the Texans train-wrecked it and possibly the Ravens' playoffs hopes.
"Our homecoming of sorts was secondary to our team goal of winning out and going to the playoffs," Daniels said. "To look up and see we had only about 60 yards of offense after three quarters is pretty disheartening, but they also took away our control of our own destiny. Now we just have to win next week and see what happens."
Denver was where Kubiak established himself as one of the better offensive minds in the NFL. He continued to earn that type of praise for the eight seasons he was in Houston before joining the Ravens this past off season.
But on Sunday, the Texans took Kubiak and his offense to school. They exposed all of their weaknesses — picking up blitzes, the inability to get off press coverages and quarterback Joe Flacco's ability to kill a team when he is really bad.
The Ravens got beat by a quarterback named Case Keenum, who was 0-8 as a starter last season. They got beat by a team that was barely clinging to playoffs hopes. This loss was such a beatdown that even Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who can get testy after losses, seemed at a loss for words.
Regardless of what Kubiak ran, it wouldn't have worked because the Ravens got handled physically.
"They [Houston] did a great job up front," Harbaugh said. "Every one of their guys played well. They timed up their pressures really well. I thought they were hitting the line of scrimmage really well with their pressures and that was tough on us. They also won some one-on-one battles."
Homecomings are supposed to be filled with pageantry, balloons and other fun stuff. The Texans appeared to be the right opponent with a quarterback who received a five-day crash course this week after three others — Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallet and Tom Savage — had gone down with injuries in the first 15 weeks.
If there was a time for Kubiak to show off, this was it. This was a great time for redemption and for Kubiak, Forsett and Daniels to show that they could still be successful with their new team, and how they were headed to the playoffs and Houston wasn't.
Instead, Kubiak and Co. were shown up. For the second straight game, the Ravens looked like a team that played its best game nearly two weeks ago in Miami.
You must be kidding. If they get in, they need some help. The Ravens don't look like a playoff team. They had just 211 yards of total offense including 33 yards rushing. Forsett had just 19 yards on 10 carries and disappeared for most of the fourth quarter.
You would figure by now that the Ravens could handle blitzes, but several Texans said they dialed up the same ones that gave the Ravens trouble earlier in the season. The Texans had just two sacks but Flacco was hit so much that the officials could have implemented a mercy rule.
The receivers struggled, too. Texans cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson covered receivers Torrey Smith and Steve Smith so well it seemed like they knew every route they were going to run.
Maybe they did because they saw it every day in practice for the last couple of years.
"I've seen some really strong defensive efforts during my time here, but they just beat us," Daniels said. "They threw some new wrinkles at us, like pressures they hadn't run before. I have great respect for Joseph and Kareem, they always come to play. They kept pressure on Joe the entire time and we never got one thing going."
And then there was Flacco. Oh, was he bad. How bad? He couldn't hit the ground if he dropped the ball. He threw three interceptions and completed just 21 of 50 passes for 195 yards. He finished with a rating of 41.7, much higher than the .00 rating he had at halftime.
Several times in the first half, Flacco grabbed for his ribs, but he swore there was no injury, just equipment malfunction.
"No, I swear, there was no injury, I wouldn't lie about that," Flacco said.
He just had a poor game. So did the receivers and offensive line. The problems that were exposed have been there all season, but were masked by playing the lowly teams in the NFC South and AFC South.
Kubiak was also outdone by first-year Houston coach Bill O'Brien, who runs Houston's offense. Despite being limited by Keenum, the Texans came out attacking the Ravens' secondary with long passes.
The Texans were effective in running the Wildcat offense with running back Arian Foster, and even scored on a halfback option pass from Foster to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the Ravens couldn't do anything to stifle Houston's defense.
It wasn't the kind of homecoming the Ravens had planned for Houston.