Offense leaves defense stranded on the road

Offense leaves defense stranded on the road
October 21, 2012, 11:00 pm
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With the surprising return of Terrell Suggs giving the Ravens' struggling defense a momentary lift, it didn't matter in Sunday's 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans.

It hardly looked like a meeting between the two best teams in the AFC with both entering 5-1. The Ravens allowed the most points under coach John Harbaugh since he arrived in 2008 and the hurry-up offense disappeared yet again.

As much as the Ravens have tried to deny it, something about the offense and the road doesn't mix. When quarterback Joe Flacco hit Tandon Doss in the third quarter for a 15-yard touchdown, it represented the Ravens' only trip to the end zone away from home in 10 quarters.

Flacco finished 21-for-43 for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Combined with his last road performance at the Kansas City Chiefs, he's just 34-for-70 passing.

The Ravens got out to a quick start as they drove into Texans territory but stalled and settled for a 51-yard field goal from Justin Tucker. The rookie also converted one from 54 yards and is 14-for-15 for the season. From 50-plus yards, Tucker is 4-for-4.

"We had a good first drive," said Flacco, who threw a pass that was deflected by J.J. Watt and returned by Johnathan Joseph 52 yards for a touchdown to break the game open in the second quarter at 16-3. "But we went against a good defense today. We all could've done things better, starting with myself. I don't really have an answer for you. It's just the way it works out."

Running back Ray Rice opened with 30 yards on four carries, but he only ran the ball five times after that and finished with a season-low 42.

Houston dominated the ball for 38 minutes in time of possession compared with 22 for Baltimore.

Flacco was sacked twice in the first quarter, leading to a safety in the end zone by Connor Barwin and it was all downhill from there.

Suggs made his presence felt early by stuffing runs from Arian Foster on Houston's first series, and he sacked quarterback Matt Schaub at 7:46 of the first quarter.

But the Ravens needed much more than Suggs, who was playing his first game of the season as he surprisingly came off the physically-unable-to-perform list just five days ago. He tore his Achilles during the offseason and was activated to the 53-man roster on Saturday.  

"It's not the start I wanted. I wanted to come back with a win but I felt if it was good on Saturday that I would go," said Suggs who had three tackles and one assisted. "I had to come back this game against a good team because we all know how important November and December is and I didn't want to be still knocking the rust off when it comes down the stretch to those big games."

Suggs was projected to be on the field for about 15-20 plays but far exceeded that. After giving up 200-plus rushing yards in the last two games, the Ravens allowed the Texans to compile 181.

Until the second half, they'd kept Foster, who had 98 yards on 19 carries in all, relatively in check.  But they failed to get the Texans off the field or create any turnovers to change the momentum.

Schaub led a balanced attack for Houston with 23-for-37 passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns.

The only good news for the Ravens is they have a bye week and certainly can use it. Right tackle Kelechi Osemele left the game with what he thought was a broken right ankle, but he returned in the third quarter after X-Rays were negative and he received painkilling shots.

Safety Ed Reed hurt his ribs on a tackle in the fourth quarter but said he was OK afterwards. They didn't have starting nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu because of an injured knee. 

Baltimore literally was beaten up.

"There's no sugar-coating it. Call a spade a spade," Suggs said. "They whipped our ass."