The Ravens dismantled the Texans on Sunday by a score of 41-7. The Ravens had been pitching a shutout, but a 41-yard touchdown by Carlos Hyde ruined the goose egg on the scoreboard. In retaliation, Gus Edwards broke off a 63-yard run to push the lead back to 34.
What did we learn?
The refs do not like to overturn pass interference, even if it is blatantly obvious.
After settling inside the Baltimore 35, Deshaun Watson decided to take a shot play on fourth down to DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins was interfered with in the end zone, but no defensive pass interference was called. Upon a Bill O’Brien challenge, the ruling was upheld, and social media went into an uproar. The play is blatantly clear to be pass interference, but the referee deemed that the play was not worth overturning. While Texans’ fans have been a little too overzealous in how much the call would have impacted the game, it is yet another case of video review giving the illusion of change when change is unlikely to occur.
Deshaun Watson still has plenty of room to grow.
For the first time since high school, Deshaun Watson was blown out in a football game. As dumb as that stat is, it ignores his 14-point playoff loss to the Colts, which was telling that Watson never had bad games. Until Sunday, that is.
Watson was putrid by just about every metric known to football fans. He had a passer rating of 63.7, his third-worst as a starter. Watson did not account for a touchdown for the first time in his career. Watson unveiled all of his bad habits at the wrong time as he turned the ball over twice and routinely took bad sacks. Not all six of the sacks are his fault, but there was one play in which Watson had 10 seconds to throw the ball. Watson ended the play on the ground with the ball in his hand behind the line of scrimmage. It was quite the dud from Watson.
The Texans’ offensive line has room to grow.
Laremy Tunsil was hobbled, but the line was just plain bad on Sunday. Regardless of the Ravens waking up as a defense, the Texans were a few weeks late to the Halloween party as their five linemen dressed up as turnstiles. Deshaun Watson was consistently left running around in the pocket with no hope of completing a pass. While Watson compounded the problem by not throwing the football, the offensive line was absolutely porous and not helpful in the slightest.
Volume is the great equalizer in the run game.
The Texans had been stout against the run, ranking inside the top three in fewest yards allowed. However, the Ravens arguably posted their best game rushing as they gashed the Texans for 7.3 yards per carry for 60 minutes. Gus Edwards’s touchdown run inflates the tally, but the Ravens still ground the Texans for 5.7 yards per carry on their 35 other carries. In one game, the Texans went from a top-three rush defense to the 13th in terms of yards allowed per game. The Texans allowed more yards than any two-game stretch since Weeks 13 and 14 in the 2017 season. Excluding the playoff game against the Colts, it was the first time that the Texans allowed 200 rushing yards since Week 7 of the 2015 season.
Lamar Jackson is insane.
It was not a perfect passer rating like he had in Week 10, but Jackson was oddly close to completing the feat for an unprecedented third time on the season. Posting a passer rating of 139.2, Jackson fired four touchdowns to go along with 222 yards through the air. On the ground, Jackson added 86 extra yards but snapped his lengthy streak of scoring rushing touchdowns. Jackson was jaw-dropping, and he was by far the best quarterback on the field for the entire game. He was a maestro after a couple of early incompletions. While Jackson passing Russell Wilson in the MVP race is likely just a consequence of Wilson having a Week 11 bye, Jackson supplanted Deshaun Watson and moved into second place in my MVP hierarchy.
The Ravens’ defense has turned a corner.
After keeping the Texans scoreless for three-and-a-half quarters, it is clear that the Ravens have ascended several levels since their pitiful defense in September. After being gashed for 500 yards by the Chiefs and Browns, the Ravens have not allowed more than 350 yards to any of their six opponents. They have forced 12 turnovers, including one in every game, and have scored five defensive touchdowns since acquiring Marcus Peters. By holding the Texans to just seven points, the Ravens have suddenly jumped up to be the sixth-best scoring defense in the NFL, buoyed by allowed 16 points per game in their last six games.
Justin Tucker is human.
Kicking woes attack each kicker differently. Tucker has missed two kicks in three weeks as an extra point went wide and a field goal hit the upright. Tucker is still the NFL’s best kicker, but he is not perfect. He has still connected on 95 percent of his field goals and 97.3 percent of his extra points, but Tucker had ascended to the status of a player who never misses. Tucker is human, surprisingly.
A look into the AFC playoff picture:
The 8-2 Ravens are firmly entrenched as the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They are 1.5 games ahead of the Chiefs and three games clear of the Steelers in the division. They lurk only a game behind the Patriots, and a tie would go in favor of the purple and black brigade due to the Ravens’ win in Week 9. The Ravens are all but a lock for the playoffs at this point, but they will be pushing for their first playoff bye since 2011.
With the loss, the 6-4 Texans fell to the sixth seed by virtue of the Colts holding a tiebreaker. The Texans can jump back into the three seed if they beat the Colts on Thursday Night Football, but that is far from an easy game.
A look ahead to Week 12:
The Ravens travel to Los Angeles to play the 6-4 Rams on Monday Night Football. While the Rams are not as vaunted as they were in 2018, the Rams will offer a stiff test that the Ravens must take seriously.
The Texans return home to play the Colts on Thursday Night Football. The Colts took the first of the head-to-head meetings, and a second win would lock in a tiebreaker. The Texans must win in order to escape the grasp of the six seed.