Ravens defense roars in second half thanks to Pagano's adjustments

The carnage from the second half of last December's game in Houston came back to the Ravens in bold relief last week. It was so bad they didn't bother to watch the tape.

Memory served them all too well.

"Last year, playing them down there, they really came back and did some things in the second half that really didn't sit well with us," iconic linebacker Ray Lewis said Sunday evening. "You know, sitting in the meeting rooms, that was kind of one film we didn't watch. We watched every other game, but we didn't watch them, because it was just a lot of things we didn't like seeing on film.

"So we took it personal coming out this week."

Consider the nightmare of Dec. 13, 2010 expunged. After rolling up 304 yards in offense in the second half of an overtime loss, the Texans gained a total of 293 Sunday, losing again to a better, more disciplined Ravens defense, 29-14, at M&T Bank Stadium.

Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, who passed for 393 yards last season, threw for 220 this time. Running back Arian Foster, who rushed for 100 yards 11 months ago, had just 49 this time around.

If the Ravens turned the table on the Texans, it didn't happen immediately. Schaub was masterful on third down in the first half, converting five of 10 opportunities to keep Houston within a field goal of the Ravens.

It wasn't until the second half that the Ravens' defense brought the hammer down. After intermission, the Texans were 1-for-6 on third down.

"That's a beautiful thing," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said with a smile when he heard those numbers.

Credit defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano with reducing the game plan at halftime after Schaub's short-passing game kept the Ravens on their heels.

"Chuck is always really good at halftime," said linebacker Jarret Johnson. "In my opinion, I think the great quality of a good coordinator is halftime adjustments. Chuck came in and narrowed down a lot of stuff we were running. They were doing a lot of quicks [passes], so a lot of the blitz stuff we wanted to do just simply couldn't get there. So Chuck did a great job with halftime adjustments and that paid off."

Safety Bernard Pollard, who played for Houston last December, said the Ravens worked through a mistake-prone first half to get the upper hand in the second.

"We know we've got to get off the field on third down, but I think you've got to take your hat off to them," Pollard said. "In the first half, they schemed us. They knew what to do, we just didn't make plays. Guys' hands were getting in there [on receivers], but we couldn't get the ball out. Guys are supposed to make tackles. I missed a tackle and I'm [mad] about it."

Pollard made up for his miss by knocking a third-down pass out of Foster's hands in the fourth quarter when the Ravens' lead was 19-14. On the next series, defensive end Pernell McPhee got a sack against Schaub that forced a punt and led to a Ravens touchdown and 26-14 lead.

Lewis, Johnson and Terrell Suggs also sacked Schaub as the Ravens' pressure schemes found the mark.

Foster, last year's NFL rushing champ, had an even rougher time than Schaub.

"I played terrible," he said. "That will never happen again. … It doesn't matter what the variables are, I played a bad game."

The Ravens swarmed around Foster and held the Texans to 93 rush yards.

"They had some good tendencies and we did a good job preparing for their tendencies," Johnson said. "Guys did a good job of staying on their feet. They popped a couple of runs on us, but you know what? An offense like that, you can take [93] yards and be happy because they can get 200 in a hurry."


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