Halftime notes as Ravens lead Texans 17-13

It was a first half of swings here at M&T Bank Stadium, as the Texans jumped out in front only to see the Ravens respond with 17 unanswered points.

Houston then battled back with 10 straight points of its own, and trail just 17-13 at halftime.

Here are some quick-hit notes from the first 30 minutes of play:

* The Ravens’ coverage units have been awful this season, and yet again, they allowed a big play in the kicking game. Danieal Manning took the opening kickoff and ran it back 60 yards, setting up the Texans’ first score of the game. Lardarius Webb also fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but fortunately, it was recovered by linebacker Albert McClellan. If the Ravens advance to the AFC Championship Game, these issues on special teams could be a major issue.

* Houston has had major special teams problems of its own, as Jacoby Jones fumbled a punt inside his own 10-yard line and gave the Ravens starting field position at the Houston 2. If not for that muffed punt, things could look a lot different right now.

* How surprising was it to see Kris Wilson bring in the first touchdown pass from Joe Flacco? Wilson, the eight-year veteran tight end, has been almost exclusively a special teams guy for the Ravens this season, and hadn’t recorded a catch all year. His last touchdown reception came back in 2009.

* I said it all week: Arian Foster is a stud, and the Texans’ zone-stretch running scheme is perfect for his skill set. Foster has been beating Ravens defenders to the edge all afternoon, and when he’s wanted to cut back against the grain, he’s had the lanes to do so. Foster put up a monster first half, recording 95 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, and generating another 29 receiving yards on four receptions. The Ravens have to do a better job of staying square to the line of scrimmage and pursuing Foster on those runs out wide.

* How about the way Anquan Boldin has played in his return to the lineup after missing the final two regular season games due to knee surgery? Boldin has three grabs for 59 yards and a touchdown so far today, and has looked plenty sharp having his knee under the knife just three weeks ago.

* Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph has absolutely shut down Torrey Smith today, holding the rookie without a catch despite being targeted three times. Joseph gave the Ravens fits for years when he was with the Bengals, and now he’s done a nice job of taking away Baltimore’s deep threat.

* Today’s attendance is 71,547, the largest crowd in Ravens history.

* The Texans’ pass rush has been far superior to that of the Ravens this afternoon, as Houston pressured Joe Flacco for much of the first half and sacked him twice, while Houston’s rookie quarterback T.J. Yates has not been sacked once. Terrell Suggs is not Balling So Hard today.

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