The Ravens are dominating the Texans in all three phases of the game so far tonight, and they have a 21-7 lead at the half.
Here are a few quick-hit notes on the first 30 minutes of play:
- Earlier today, I suggested that to get the offense going, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron make Ray Rice a bigger part of the gameplan. Through one half, Rice has already touched the ball 16 times and has 73 total yards of offense. He leads the team in receptions with six, and has made a couple nice ankle-breaking moves after the catch. Get Rice the ball, and all he does is make plays.
- Baltimore is playing well, for sure, but the Texans have also been shooting themselves in the foot quite a bit. Houston has five drops so far, and has been penalized five times for 37 yards.
- Ed Reed's freelancing has allowed him to make a ton of big plays over the years, but it's also led to a number of big plays being put up on the Ravens. The latter happened late in the first half, when Reed was responsible for the Texans' Andre Johnson after cornerback Josh Wilson had released the wide receiver to Reed. But Reed got a little greedy, and bit up towards the line of scrimmage when quarterback Matt Schaub looked like he might tuck the ball and run. The end result was Johnson being five yards behind Reed, and he easily caught a 46-yard TD pass to get Houston back in the game.
- The Ravens are having a huge problem picking up safety blitzes coming off the edges, and it's something which needs to get fixed quickly. Twice tonight, safety Bernard Pollard sacked Flacco, including on one play which was an exact replica of the one in which the Steelers' Troy Polamalu sacked Flacco and forced a fumble late in the game last week. Cameron said this week that the protection breakdown on the Polamalu sack was one he hadn't seen in 25 years of coaching. We can now make that twice in two weeks, Cam.
- Joe Flacco was looking to make a statement tonight, telling the ESPN crew he wanted to prove he's an elite quarterback. He's playing like one tonight. The Ravens' QB is 15-of-22 for 152 yards and two touchdowns so far, good for a QB rating of 118.0. Those numbers would have been even more inflated had Derrick Mason not dropped what would have been a 50+ yard completion early in the first quarter.
- Baltimore is dominating the battle for field position, largely because of their two special teams studs - Billy Cundiff and Sam Koch. Cundiff has three more touchbacks already tonight, giving him 37 on the season, while Koch has pinned the Texans inside their own 20 twice, including once inside their five-yard line. Those two continue to dominate in the kicking game, and they're doing a great job pinning the Texans deep tonight.