I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t see this win coming. Or, I should put it this way: I saw a win as being possible, but I certainly didn’t see it being so dominating, so certain, so … UNDRAMATIC. If you watch the Ravens play football, you and your poorly operational heart know that drama tends to follow the Ravens around. It’s kind of the nature of what happens when you are historically dubious on offense and historically great on defense. and when that historical greatness on D starts getting dubious too. But this game? Nada. Nothing too heart-palpitational. And that’s a welcome respite. Today felt like a vacation from normal Baltimore football.
At the beginning? Not so much. I was watching the game with a Niners fan who was delighting in my misery–more specifically, that special kind of woe-is-us, pity-us-even-though-we’re-Super-Bowl-champs misery that made me look like a spoiled cockface, because I fall into that common breed of Ravens fan that perpetually expects the worst to happen. But then my friend left (and took whatever Bay Area curse she had with her), and the pigskin gods rode their clouds down into Charm City. I know that gods were involved in this win because our defense and special teams scored back-to-back after a) the defense hadn’t forced a single turnover in the first two weeks, and b) Tandon Doss, who has saved more people from knife fights than he has caught professional football touchdowns–and who was cut by us like two weeks ago!–was actually good.
It was beautiful. It was unexpected. It was also a good team finding a way to get momentum and to, ultimately, ride that momentum to a win. Last year, the Texans undressed the Ravens–in Houston, and inspired by butthurt–but this year, the Ravens showed (cue epic Sam Spence music here) the heart and smarts of a champion.
It’s truly astonishing, and it’s kind of a shame, really, how talented the Texans are but what this loss means for them. (I mean, it’s a shame aside from the fact it brought me unmitigated joy.) The Texans are the New Chargers, except Schaub is worse than Rivers ever was: They’re absolutely loaded on both sides of the ball, but they find ways to lose big games against teams that know how to win. Unfortunately for them, the Ravens know how to win. No Pitta? No Jacoby? No Rice? No problem. That was clutch. It puts the Ravens over .500 and in a tie with the Bengals (who, by the way, WTF BEAT GREEN BAY NOT FAIR) for first place in the AFC North. It allows us Ravens fans to talk playoffs and even playoff positioning without sounding ridiculous now, which we would have like 10 days ago after an uninspiring win over the Cleveland Browns (who, by the way, WTF BEAT THE VIKINGS! … That’s nice for them, though.)
And speaking of the AFC North, how sweet is the new world order so helpfully ushered in by the Chicago Bears? Welcome to the basement, Pittsburgh! Out of respect for my own blog I’m not going to waste too many words on the Steelers, especially now that they’re a dumpster fire, but ZOMG HOW MUCH FUN IS IT THAT THE STEELERS ARE A DUMPSTER FIRE. Watching the Bears outclass them was borderline pornographic. If the Ravens have looked slightly in shambles this year, the Steelers are shambles upon shambles upon shambles. Like, every time Roethlisberger starts running and just loses his grip on the football because he’s been hit in the head too many times or because his powers are dwindling due to lack of rapes, it’s like shambles squared. Wanna experience nirvana? PITTSBURGH IS NOW LOWER THAN THE BROWNS IN THE AFC NORTH. There. I just gave it to you.
Just some quick-hitting thoughts about the Texans game before I wrap up.
- MAJOR ups to the defense, today. After basically getting Red Weddinged by the Broncos, it has not allowed a single touchdown. Browns scored 6 points, Texans scored 9: all field goals. And the defense jump-started the win today because the Texans were calm and in control until Matt Schaub remembered he’s Matt Schaub and Schaubed a pick-Schaub.
- Justin Tucker rebounded nicely from his Cundiff-esque performance last week.
- The offense did just enough to rest the defense for spells and came up biggest when it absolutely needed to. (Just like it did against the Browns. I sense a pattern?) Dallas Clark had some really nice grabs. Pierce ran about as well as possible behind a line that can’t run-block for poo.
- Defensive line got great pressure, led by Suggs and Doom–as it should have, considering the starting LT for the Texans was out.
- Run defense was stout: Foster ran all over us in last year’s rout, not so this time. That coupled with the constant pressure on Schaub exposed the Texans.
- Pass-blocking was much better than last year, when everyone was creaming themselves over J.J. Watt as if he invented the concept of using arms to deflect passes. I don’t think I saw one batted ball today.
- The Texans are hella undisciplined. Joe Flacco SCHOOLED those over-anxious noobs into, what, like five penalties? I guarantee you every Ravens fan watching thought, “I bet Cam Cameron wouldn’t have let Joe change up the cadence like that.” Awesome.