Ravens vs. Texans: Houston's Biggest Winners and Losers
The Texans needed to come out and make a statement against the Baltimore Ravens this week, and boy, they certainly did just that.
The Texans whopped the Ravens 43-13, and it appeared that the Texans were playing an in-division rival such as the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans instead of one of the best teams of the AFC.
Both sides of the ball put forth dominant performances for the Texans, ensuring that the result would never be in doubt.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the Texans' incredible victory.
Winner: J.J. Watt
Oh no! J.J. Watt did not have a sack! He must have had a terrible game!
Despite that he did notch a single digit in the sack column, Watt once again was able to seriously influence the outcome of the game.
Watt managed to get a fingertip on a Joe Flacco pass, causing the path of the ball to be slightly altered right into the hands of Johnathan Joesph, who then took the ball to the house for a pick-six.
Watt, essentially, was the main reason Joseph scored that game-changing touchdown.
Another great performance from the best defensive player in the NFL.
Loser: Coverage Teams
Jacoby Jones ran rampant all over the Texans' coverage team units.
Wait, what? Yes, the oft-maligned Jones is looking like a great kick returner for the Ravens, and the Texans could not do anything to stop him for the majority of the game.
This, however, is not an isolated issue for the Texans. Week after week they allow opposing kick and punt returners to break off huge returns against them.
If this game were close, the excellent field position that Jones granted to the Ravens throughout the game would have made it very difficult for the Texans to pull off a win.
That was not the case, fortunately, but this remains an issue that the Texans must fix. One day the poor coverage will come back and greatly hurt them.
Winner: Connor Barwin
Well, it looks like Connor Barwin finally decided that he wanted to make an impact and perform for the Texans.
For the first time this season, Barwin looked like the star pass-rusher that he was last year. With J.J. Watt getting double teamed all game long, Barwin stepped up and consistently pressured the quarterback.
Barwin recorded one sack, but he was much more disruptive than that one stat indicates. For starters, Barwin knocked Flacco down four times, forcing the inconsistent quarterback to make rushed and errant throws.
Furthermore, Barwin was just about the only Texan who managed to do much against the Ravens' running game. He consistently got into the backfield, while the rest of the Texans' front seven was beat at the point of attack.
If Barwin can continue to play like this, then the Texans' defense has the potential to be even more formidable than it was last season.
Loser: Run Defense
Though Ray Rice only carried the ball nine times due to curious play-calling by the Ravens' coaching staff, the Texans looked weak up front against the run.
Rice seemed to pick up about five yards every single time he touched the ball, and the Texans appeared helpless to stop him.
Stopping the run has been a recurring problem for the Texans throughout the entire season, and now that Brian Cushing is out for the rest of the season it may become even more of an issue.
Cushing was the leader of the Texans' run-stopping efforts, and his loss might be severely damaging.
The Texans fortunately jumped out to an early lead, which therefore forced the Ravens to abandon the run. In the future, however, when the Texans' offense may not put forth a dominant effort, then the Texans' run defense may be a huge problem.
Winner: Rushing Offense
As much as the Texans struggled with stopping the run, they were able to run the ball efficiently and effortlessly.
Foster appeared to glide through the stout Ravens' defense, and his performance stands in stark contrast to his miserable one against the Packers last week.
The offensive line opened up holes for Foster and Tate throughout the entire game, and the two star running backs took advantage of that.
Overall, the Texans' running back rushed for a total of 183 yards with an average of five yards per carry. The Ravens seemed helpless to stop the Texans' rushing attack, and that majorly contributed to the Texans' impressive victory.
For the first time this season, I can honestly say that the Texans looked dominant on the ground. Here's to hoping that this trend will continue.
Last week against the Packers, the Texans' secondary looked like the one from the historically bad pre-Wade Phillips defense.
Against the Ravens and the supposedly "elite" Joe Flacco, the secondary's performance was absolutely incredible.
Both of the Ravens' talented receivers, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, could not separate from the Texans' cornerbacks. Flacco had little time to throw the ball due to the Texans' great pass rush, and the great play of the secondary made it extremely difficult for him to complete any passes at all.
If the Texans' secondary can continue to turn out superior performances such as this one, opposing offenses will find it very difficult to move the ball on the Texans.
Winner: Whitney Mercilus
Whitney Mercilus was merciless in his performance today.
Not funny? Yeah, okay. I'm sorry.
Mercilus, though, actually looked the part of a first-round pass-rusher. The coaching staff had declined to give him much playing time so far in the season, but for whatever reason, Mercilus was given many more snaps than usual in this game.
Mercilus took advantage of his opportunity and he had an excellent game. Mercilus recorded a sack and forced a fumble on the same play.
He then tipped a Flacco pass that resulted in an interception. The Ravens were driving down the field, and Mercilus managed to single-handedly swing the momentum back to the Texans' side.
Hopefully the Texans' coaching staff will take note of Mercilus' great game and award him even more playing time by placing him in a real three-man rotation with Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed.