The Ravens jumped to 2-0 on the season with a 33-16 win over the Texans in Houston on Sunday. It was the Ravens’ 14th regular season win in a row and another win over the Texans.
Combined with last year’s 41-7 blowout in Baltimore, the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson have beaten the Texans and quarterback Deshaun Watson 74-22 in two seasons.
Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s win:
1. The Ravens need to shore up pass protection
The Ravens’ offensive line, specifically the interior, was a big question mark, entering the 2020 season. After two weeks, that discussion isn’t going away.
Baltimore gave up four sacks on the day as it struggled against the Houston front, led by J.J. Watt. With rookie Tyre Phillips up front to replace franchise legend Marshal Yanda, and center Matt Skura still nearing 100 percent, the offensive line has room to grow over the next few weeks of the season.
Without a preseason, there’s a bit more runway for each team to get into a full-season rhythm. But with the Chiefs and the Washington Football Team, points and protection are going to be of the essence moving forward. They ended the day with more than 225 yards rushing.
The offensive line did, however, get stronger as the game wore on, opening bigger and bigger rushing lanes for Ravens backs.
Jackson was forced to scramble numerous times throughout the game, and though that’s part of what makes him the reigning MVP, the Ravens sure don’t want to see their franchise player running around in the backfield.
2. The Ravens can get by without Tavon Young, but he’s sure a monster help
Cornerback Tavon Young left the game in the first half with a left knee injury and was designated as doubtful to return.
He’s missed two of the last three seasons with season-ending injuries, and surely the Ravens were hopeful he’d be able to make it through the 2020 season with his health.
In his absence, the Ravens moved Marlon Humphrey into the slot and Jimmy Smith bumped down to the outside corner position, like they ran last year with Young out. In a vacuum, the results weren’t horrible.
The Ravens picked off Watson once, but scored a touchdown on a scoop-and-score from linebacker L.J. Fort, courtesy of a forced fumble by Humphrey. Marcus Peters made one of the best plays of the day, diving for an interception to give the Ravens the ball back.
But it’s no doubt the Ravens are better with Young on the field, and more specifically, Humphrey and Peters on the outside. Depending on the severity of Young’s injury, the Ravens might be interested in some cornerback depth.
3. Running back by committee? Expect it moving forward.
The Ravens’ coaching staff has played coy about the direction of its backfield, but the direction they’re looking to go is becoming clearer.
In Week 1, the Ravens gave Mark Ingram 10 touches, J.K. Dobbins seven, Gus Edwards four and Jackson seven carries. In Houston, the lineup was more of the same.
Ingram had nine carries for 55 yards and a score, Jackson ran 16 times for 54 yards (including kneeldowns) and Edwards ran for 73 yards on 10 carries. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the day was the fact that Dobbins had just two carries — though he made it count, with a 44-yard rush late in the game.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman and coach John Harbaugh have said the Ravens will play it by matchup all season long. For now, it looks like the matchups will dictate a by-committee backfield for the duration of the season.
4. Name of the game: Ball control
With under five minutes to go in the second half, the Texans had just two second half possessions. They scored on both of those possessions (field goals), but it wasn’t enough.
The Ravens had a 14-play drive that went eight minutes and 36 seconds that ended in a field goal. Their next drive was just six plays, but lasted 2:49 and ended in a touchdown. Their final drive of consequence ended in a field goal after 13 plays and 4:29 burned off the clock.
Not only is playing the Ravens difficult because of their talent, it’s simply tough to handle by nature of the Ravens’ offensive style.