The Ravens clinched their victory Sunday against the Texans with Mark Ingram taking a direct snap and quarterback Lamar Jackson positioned as a wide receiver to the left of the formation.
On 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter, with the Ravens up 10 and in Texans' territory, they lined up in the Wildcat with fullback Pat Ricard in the offset-I to Ingram’s left. They brought in reserve offensive lineman Patrick Mekari and moved Orlando Brown Jr. from the right side to the left side. Everyone in the stadium knew it was a run play, likely designed for a few yards at the most.
And the first time Ingram was touched was when his teammates celebrated with him in the end zone.
In a 33-16 win in Houston, the Ravens showcased their bruising style once again as they wore down the Texans late in the game to move to 2-0 on the season. Ingram’s touchdown only sealed it.
“That’s something that we think is really important, our style of football,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s something you need to work on, you need to build into that. We’ve been doing that. We came out, had a long drive, think it ended up in a field goal. They came back with a long drive that ended up in a field goal. That was that kind of game. Those are the kind of games, situations that call for that, I think our guys did a nice job with that.”
The Ravens had four possessions in the second half, three of which resulted in points and the last of which ended the game.
The first drive totaled 8:36 and went 55 yards in 14 plays for a field goal. The next drive, which ended in Ingram’s touchdown run, lasted just 2:49 and took six plays. The third drive lasted 4:29 and ended with a field goal. The final drive was the shortest of the second half at just 2:23 — but that’s only because it ended the game.
“Love to see that kind of stuff,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “Our team, we haven’t played our best ball yet. We’ve got a lot of room for improvement. We go out there and we find a way to grind it out and make things happen. As a defensive player, watching the offense take a nine-minute drive and add to the lead, I mean, you can’t ask for anything better than that.”
The Ravens’ bruising rushing attack wore down the Texans as the game dragged on, as three rushers went for 50-plus yards and a fourth (J.K. Dobbins) ended with 48.
Gus Edwards led the team in rushing with 73 yards on 10 carries, while Ingram trailed with 55 yards on nine carries. Jackson had the most carries with 16 (including game-ending kneeldowns) for 54 yards and Dobbins ended with 48 yards on just two carries.
The second half drives, of which the Texans only had three, hearkened back to last season, when the Ravens would wear teams down with bruising and exhausting second half drives.
“It’s a new year,” Ingram said. “We’re just trying to create a new identity for ourselves. This year, the 2020 Ravens, it’s a new team, a new season. We were able to run the ball efficiently, get some big runs thanks to the offensive line creating holes and seams for us. We feel like we have the best backfield in the league.”
Baltimore’s defense did its job despite the likely season-ending loss of cornerback Tavon Young, as it held Houston to 51 yards on the ground and 275 through the air. After all, the Ravens certainly had plenty of time to rest in the second half.
L.J. Fort’s scoop-and-score, Marcus Peters’ interception and the entire defense’s four sacks certainly highlighted the win. But it was the offense’s domination in the second half that not only sealed the win, but put an exclamation point on it.
Now 21-3 as a starting quarterback in the regular season, Jackson has his biggest matchup upcoming in the Kansas City Chiefs. Next Monday’s game figures to be one of, if not the most anticipated games of the season.
Jackson made headlines during his draft process in 2018, declaring he wouldn’t workout as a wide receiver or play as one in the NFL. Sunday, just for a play, he lined up as one — but only as a decoy. And the result was a back-breaking touchdown run.
“Key for me is just to catch the snap and go through my reads,” Ingram said. “The O-line did a tremendous job, I was able to press, set up their blocks and they just created a big seam for me to be able to run through. And I was able to finish in the end zone.”