Ravens get ugly win over Texans due to strength of defense

In front of a primetime crowd, the Baltimore Ravens faced off against the Houston Texans in a game that was once again dominated not by an elite quarterback or great offensive performance, but by a defense that keeps finding the strength to push opponents around. The Ravens very well could make the playoffs, but it will be by continuing to play ‘ugly’ and hope that when December rolls around Joe Flacco and the offense get hotter.

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Defense rebounding at the right time

This 2017 Ravens team resembles a 2012 Ravens squad that fielded a great defense that gave a questionable offense the boost it needed to make a late playoff run. Terrell Suggs continues to be the emotional leader on defense and has had a quality showing this season. In the ten weeks he has played, Suggs has 27 tackles (21 solo), 7.5 sacks, three stuffs, three forced fumbles and two pass defenses. It was a sack and a forced fumble on Monday night that secured the win for Baltimore.

“We’re a dangerous November and December team, especially when we’re healthy,” Suggs told ESPN after the game. “Everyone knows once we get in that second season, we become a whole different team, we become a very special team.”

Brandon Carr, Eric Weddle and Jimmy Smith have had up and down games but the trio still has the ability to create plays and make opposing offenses pay attention to where they are on the field. The trio has logged 104 tackles, four tackles for loss, one forced fumble, 10 interceptions (Smith had a pick six) and 22 passed defended.

Both Tony Jefferson and Anthony Levine logged their first career interceptions against the Texans.

The question to ask, however, is how long this defense can bend and not break. They’ve seen that happen this season and if they can’t keep the momentum and energy moving forward, they’ll be watching the playoffs from their couches this year.

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The best Ravens passer wasn’t Flacco

Joe Flacco continues to struggle. The questions about his overall health continue to linger despite comments by the team that he’s fine. Considered ‘elite’ by some, his inability to accurately launch the deep ball he used to be known for and a surrounding cast of wide receivers that haven’t played to their full potential has made the Ravens offense lackluster.

Against the Texans, it wasn’t Flacco that took the ‘best passer’ title, but punter Sam Koch. On a fake punt, Koch threw a nice pass that set up a touchdown by Javorius Allen a couple plays later. As of halftime, it was Koch who led all passers in the game; Koch had a 118.8 rating compared to Flacco (66.4) and Houston’s Tom Savage (66.0). To most football fans, that speaks volumes.

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Rushing game could help Ravens down the stretch

At this point, anything positive on the offensive side of the ball could help boost the Ravens, but establishing a run game will be critical unless Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin shake off the rust and make critical catches. Running back Alex Collins showed nice speed and the ability to run the ball north-south against the Texans. Collins carried the ball 16 times for 60 yards and a touchdown. He gives the ground attack an up-tempo feel, as well, and paired with Allen would give this offense a nice boost if John Harbaugh takes advantage of it in the playbook.

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What’s next?

The Ravens had better not bank on Koch and the ever-ready Justin Tucker (basically, special teams) to be their top scorers. Currently the number six seed in the AFC, the Ravens will host the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Baltimore’s advantage may be that Detroit is in a desperate situation as the NFC race gets even hotter and the chances to get into the playoff mix become even more difficult.

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