The Ravens don’t care where the points and wins come from. That’s been shown in their history, when defense and special teams outshined their offense for years.
So consider Sunday’s 30-9 victory over the Texans a bit of a throwback.
While the offense could only come through for one touchdown, linebacker Daryl Smith provided one on defense and return man Tandon Doss added one on special teams to change the momentum after the Ravens had fallen behind 6-0.
Justin Tucker’s 28-yard field goals began a 17-point run for Baltimore in the second quarter, but it was the 37-yard interception return from Smith and the 82-yard punt return from Doss less than two minutes apart that took the air out of Houston (2-1).
Baltimore (2-1) led 17-9 at halftime and scored 30 of the game’s final 33 points overall with those two big plays being the catalyst.
With 2:39 to go in the first half, Smith really got the Ravens started by jumping a route and taking the ball down the home sideline for the Ravens’ first touchdown of the game, giving them a 10-6 lead. It was the first pick-six of Smith’s career.
“I guess it’s sort of like a dream,” Smith said. “You catch it, and it’s just kind of hazy. I just remember catching it and just running as fast as I could, trying to get in there. And getting in there - I’m not a dancer or nothing like that. I just gave them a little something and just went back to the bench and got ready and lined back up.”
Probably making it a bit more special is that Smith was able to do that on the day the man he replaced, future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, was enshrined on the Ravens’ Ring of Honor.
Smith paid his respects with more than the touchdown, as he finished with a game-high 10 tackles, a quarterback hurry and a pass defense.
The significance of doing that on this specific Sunday wasn’t lost on Smith.
“I mean, on Ray Lewis’ day, and we were able to get the win like we did today, that was huge,” he said.
Perhaps Doss didn’t top Smith’s timing, but he did score only his second career touchdown on his 24th birthday.
Just 1:54 after Smith’s interception return, Doss barely stayed in bounds down the Ravens’ sideline for the fifth-longest punt return in team history, increasing the lead to 17-6. It meant a lot to the third-year wideout to be able to contribute in such a manner after such a roller coaster start to his career.
Doss struggled to carve out a role his first two years with Baltimore and was one of the final cuts in training camp this year before being re-signed.
“It’s been a long three years for me,” Doss said. “You know, came in, like I always say, high expectations for myself because I always had confidence in what I can do on the football field. It’s been a rocky first couple of years. Just having that play in front of my home team fans, that was amazing. Hopefully, I’ll just keep doing it.”
The ruling on the field was a touchdown before being reviewed and upheld by officials, who thought Doss might’ve stepped out of bounds. What did Doss think?
“I thought I stepped out, honestly,” he said. “I was running down the field, so I just kept running, though. Everybody was saying, ‘Go, go, go,’ so I kept running and I got in.”
Coach John Harbaugh was certainly glad to see his team come through for two big plays like that, especially when the offense was unable.
“Both were huge,” Harbaugh said. “It’s 14 points - that’s what it really boils down to. You’re talking about 14 points and that’s a huge difference in the game.
“Anytime that you’re able to score 14 points, I don’t care how you do it, especially in quick fashion like that, is a tremendous turning point.”
Overall, Harbaugh called it “a great team win.”
“I commend the football team for playing rock-solid football,” Harbaugh said, “for displaying the mental toughness it takes to beat a team of that caliber, for overcoming the first quarter the way we did when we really had no field position - when our defense or offense had no field position, our defense stepped up to keep them out of the end zone. For the score only to be 6-0 the way that the field position football went in the first quarter, I thought it was just outstanding. To come out in the second quarter, have the interception for the return, then the punt return to break the game a little bit and build some momentum for us - two huge plays from our defense and our special teams.
“To come out in the third quarter and take it right down the field and get that score to build on top of that was big. I thought our defensive line was just tremendous. You talk about the secondary, we covered those good receivers. ... But the D-line, we covered four guys most of the game, against that run game and against that quarterback, was really special. So it’s just a great team win, a rock-solid win and I’m really proud of that.”
INJURY NOTES: Harbaugh said defensive tackle Terrence Cody could miss 1-2 weeks with the knee sprain he suffered Sunday. The team doesn’t anticipate it being a long-term injury.
Harbaugh also said tailback/return man Shaun Draughn suffered a high ankle sprain and linebacker Albert McClellan has a minor hip injury.