Ravens 41, Texans 7
Texans offer no challenge to Ravens in ugly 41-7 loss
The Texans had a chance to make a big statement on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. They did indeed make a big one; they are not ready to compete at the highest level. The Ravens might be the best team in football right now, and they looked like it. The Texans looked like an also-ran, losing 41-7. There is no shame in losing to the Ravens, but completely failing to show up and channeling your inner Miami Dolphin was an embarrassment. This was by far their worst performance of the season and maybe the worst of the Bill O'Brien era. It was reminiscent of the 30-0 playoff loss to the Chiefs. Here is how it all played out:
The positives: You're kidding, right? The only touchdown came in garbage time.
The negatives: We can stop with the Deshaun Watson MVP talk. He was badly outplayed by Lamar Jackson, who continues to stake his claim. Watson followed up an amazing performance in London with one of the worst efforts of his career.
They got off to another slow start, with a bad Watson fumble where he once again tried to do way too much. Fortunately it did not hurt them, as the Ravens missed a rare field goal. The next possession they went for it on fourth and three, threw a deep ball to Hopkins, who was interfered with in the end zone but there was no call. The Texans rightly challenged, but the NFL continued its trend of refusing to overturn interference calls. That was one of the only real shots to score a touchdown as it turned out, and they game quickly got away from them after that. Ka'imi Fairbairn missed yet another field goal in the first half. They allowed five first-half sacks (seven overall), although many of those were Watson's fault. They looked disjointed on offense, as they did in the first game against Jacksonville and in the loss to Carolina. They had just 102 yards in the first half, worst of the Watson era. There is no other way to say it; they were just bad.
The positives: Special teams made a nice stop on a fake field goal in the first quarter, reading it perfectly and stopping it on fourth down. Also, it was scoreless after one quarter. So there's that. Otherwise...
The negatives: After a solid beginning, holding Lamar Jackson to a 1-of-6 passing start, they had little answer for what has been the best offense in football, allowing the Ravens to score on six consecutive actual possessions (they did have a one-play knee down at the half). They got little pressure on Jackson, dropping multiple players into coverage, but Jackson was able to beat that. The third touchdown they allowed was vintage Texans defense; they failed to cover a running back out of the backfield on a wheel route. Injuries continued to plague the secondary, as both Lonnie Johnson and Justin Reid left the game. They were overmatched on this side of the ball, too.
The bottom line
This was an all-around awful performance, the worst of the Watson era. He completed 18-of-29 passes for 169 yards, zero TDs and a terrible interception and even worse fumble. He rushed for just 12, and was sacked six times. All the progress the Texans seemed to have made over the past month disappeared in one ugly afternoon. Lamar Jackson showed why he and Russell Wilson are the MVP leaders, hitting 17 of 24 passes for 222 yards, four TDs and no interceptions. He also added 86 yards rushing on just nine carries. In the battle of young star quarterbacks, Jackson dominated in what was no contest. The team stats were ugly as well. Baltimore had 25 first downs to 16, 492 yards to 232 (much of it garbage time yards) and led in time of possession 35:46 to 23:41. The Texans were just 2 of 10 on third downs and 1 of 4 on fourth down.
Bill O'Brien has done a good job in recent weeks, but they had no answers on either side of the ball. He also unnecessarily risked Watson by leaving him in the game down 34-0 in the fourth quarter. Why? To pad his crappy stats? He finally put in A.J. McCarron with 3:55 left down 41-7. He should have folded sooner and prepared for Thursday night's game against the Colts. He was lucky Watson was not hurt.
The Texans came out of the bye week looking like they had spent the entire time on the beach. The bad news is they face a quick turnaround and a must-win against the Colts and are now just 6-4 on the season, tied with Indy. At least they didn't expend much energy in this one. They have to regroup quickly or the season could spiral out of control in a hurry with the Colts and then Patriots on deck. This three-game stretch was going to be their big test. On the first section of it, they failed miserably.