Connor Barwin ended his drought with a bang.
Barwin sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco for a safety in the first quarter on Sunday, providing the Texans' first two points in a 43-13 victory. It was the first sack of the season for Barwin, a fourth-year outside linebacker who led the Texans with 11.5 sacks in 2011.
Close-up television replays showed a big smile on Barwin's face before he even let go of Flacco in the grass of the north end zone at Reliant Stadium.
"It was a huge weight lifted off my back," Barwin said. "It felt good. Football is a lot (about) confidence, and so if you get that early on in the game, I felt like I could really let it go for the rest of the game, and I was able to play well.
"I was just really happy that I finally got a sack."
Barwin had a clear path to Flacco on the safety, coming off the left edge of the offensive line and bringing down Flacco with a blindside hit.
"I've got to give credit to (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips)," Barwin said. "We kind of schemed that up a little bit. I moved around, Brooks (Reed) moved around the other side and we kind of confused their O-line. I was unblocked and was able to get there."
Barwin's safety sparked a 29-0 run in the first half. The Texans' offense, which had one first down and 25 yards on its first three series, got the ball at the Houston 33-yard line after the safety. The Texans found their groove and drove 67 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 25-yard touchdown catch by Kevin Walter.
"It's always one play that can ignite an offense, ignite the defense or ignite a team, period," wide receiver Andre Johnson said. "I think that sack that Connor got for the safety was the play. Sometimes, it's just once one play happens, everything just seems to fall in place."
Two plays later, J.J. Watt tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage, and Johnathan Joseph picked it off and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown. In a matter of 11 plays and 4:58, the Texans went from trailing 3-0 to leading 16-3.
"It's kind of funny because Connor and I have been getting blanked the last couple of weeks," Joseph said. "We always say we're always tied together. As soon as he made his sack and I made my interception, we both went over to each other and I was like, 'Hey man, we are starting to get something rolling here.'"
The Texans' defense then forced three consecutive three-and-outs. The Ravens gained a total of 12 yards on those possessions, and the Texans responded with a touchdown and a field goal to extend their lead.
Safety Glover Quin made a one-handed interception in the final two minutes of the first half. The Texans turned it into another field goal for a 29-3 halftime advantage.
The Texans cruised the rest of the way, never leading by less than 19 points in the second half. Barwin finished with four tackles, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and one pass defensed.
"Big plays always ignite teams," said Texans defensive end Antonio Smith, who had two sacks of his own in the fourth quarter. "That play (Barwin's safety) ignited us at the right moment. What made it even better was that it was Connor. Everybody has been excited and waiting for Connor to get a sack. I told him that as soon as he stops thinking about getting a sack and just play, that's when he'd get one. That's what happened today."