After winning Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens defense said goodbye to two key figures who were in the building Sunday - linebacker Ray Lewis, who retired, and safety Ed Reed, who signed with the Texans - as well as a host of other veterans.
The unit was playing without two significant newcomers - defensive lineman Chris Canty (thigh) and second-round linebacker Arthur Brown (chest), who both were inactive.
And still, Baltimore found a way to hold its opponent without a touchdown for the second consecutive week, this time the victim being the talented Houston Texans.
The Texans entered the day ranked fourth in the NFL in total offense and tied for fourth in scoring offense. The Ravens limited them to nine points and 264 yards.
For an essentially reconstructed defense to accomplish something like that, especially just two games removed from permitting 49 points, it’s eye-opening.
Coach John Harbaugh was asked whether he’s surprised by how quickly the defense is coming together.
“You know, it’s hard to put a timetable on that,” he said. “We feel like we can be a great defense. We’re still working toward that. We talked about this last night. We do feel like we’re as far along as we could possibly be right now with this group. I’d say on both sides of the ball, as far along as we can possibly be with the new group at this time.”
This marks the first time since 2010 that the Ravens didn’t allow a touchdown in back-to-back games. After the Texans had scored touchdowns in all seven of their trips to the red zone over their first two games, Baltimore held them to field goals in their only two trips there Sunday.
The Ravens added three more sacks with Arthur Jones, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs each recording one. The team now has 11 sacks overall, three of which by Suggs, who has one in each game so far.
Suggs feels good about the fact that the Ravens haven’t allowed a touchdown since Week 1.
“Anytime you keep a team out of the end zone, it gives you confidence,” he said. “But it’s only now that we can appreciate it because we still had a whole game to play and they still had opportunities to go down there and score touchdowns and win the game. So when we were doing it, we can’t pat ourselves on the back. We have to continue to play football, and that’s what we did. ...
“It was a great team win. We’re not satisfied by any means. We know we’ve still got to work and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Safety James Ihedigbo, who had a tremendous game with nine tackles, including two for loss, and two passes defended, said the unit has high expectations of itself - ones it seemed to meet against the Texans.
“We know in the secondary that we have to play a certain level if we want this team to go where we plan on it - where our goals are,” he said. “Once again, at the top of our goals on our board is no touchdowns. We’re going against a high-powered offense like this, and when you do that, it means a lot. This is going to be one of the teams that when it comes down to the end of it, the hunt, they’re going to be in it. To be able to do that and accomplish that here in this stadium is awesome.”