Harris Hits: Week 11 at Baltimore

There are good days. There are bad days. And then there’s Sunday. What could go wrong in Baltimore, went wrong and it resulted in a 41-7 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Here are my Harris hits from the day.

The Ravens came into the game as the number one rush offense in the league and lived up to the billing in every single way. Lamar Jackson didn’t have to do the heavy lifting in the run game, but a couple of key runs at key times in this game were killers. He finished with 86 yards on nine carries, including a highlight-inducing 39-yard run that set up a score in the third quarter. Running backs Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards ran downhill throughout the day. It resulted in the Texans defense yielding a 100-yard rusher for the first time in a while as Edwards finished with 112 yards on eight carries. Tough day at an inopportune time against the run.

DeAndre Hopkins was a dude right out of the gate for the Texans and it seemed like a 12-13 catch day, at a minimum, after four catches on the first two drives. He had to fight off Ravens defensive backs all day long out on the perimeter and on a controversial play in the end zone on a key 4th-and-2 in the first quarter. At first glance, live from about 15-20 yards away, I was convinced it was pass interference by Marlon Humphrey.

The hard part for an official is understanding that a 50/50 ball like that is typically an 80/20 ball in Hopkins favor. Worst case, Hopkins will go up in the air and fight for the ball and get hands on it. So, when he couldn’t even get a hand on the throw from Deshaun Watson, I knew it had to be interference. But, that understanding comes with experience, I suppose, having seen every Hopkins catch from field level since 2014. Man, that one stung. Does a PI call there guarantee a change in the result? Not at all, but it would’ve been interesting to see it play out from that point forward as the ball would’ve moved to the one-yard line with four cracks at the goal line.

I think I was more shocked than happy when Ravens kicker Justin Tucker hit the upright on a 43-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter. He might be the best kicker I’ve seen, so when his attempt started leaking to the right I just thought he’d slide it right through the upright. But, he didn’t, so on the next drive, Tucker lined up for another attempt, there was a chance for something else to happen. I thought the Ravens might pooch punt, but a fake made a little more sense. Luckily, safety A.J. Moore spied the fake, fought through a block and tackled Mark Andrews well short of the first down. It was a tremendous play by the second-year safety.

The Texans couldn’t get the running game working until early in the fourth quarter and then Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde got rolling. On a 2nd-and-2, Johnson hammered inside on a 17-yard run that moved the ball into Ravens territory. On the following play, Hyde sliced through for a 41-yard rushing touchdown, the Texans only score on the day.

So, in the Ravens-Chiefs-Texans-Patriots round robin, the Ravens finished 2-1 (beat Texans and Patriots, lost to Chiefs), the Chiefs are 1-1 (beat Ravens, lost to Texans with a game vs. Patriots upcoming), the Texans are 1-1 (beat Chiefs, lost to Ravens and have the Patriots in a couple of weeks) and the Patriots are 0-1 (lost to Ravens, games upcoming with Texans and Chiefs).

The Ravens defense did a great job reading keys and being disciplined throughout the day. The Texans have exploited defenses throughout the year for not making the right reads, but the Ravens excelled in doing so. That led to huge success on first and second down, which allowed them to pin their ears back and rush on third down.

You know as I started going through my notes and thoughts on this one, there’s just not more to say about it. Nothing went right and we need to move on to Indianapolis. Can’t forget what Baltimore taught everyone in this one, but linger on it too long and the Colts will come here on Thursday night and snatch the division right away with a win. See you later this week for a huge one at NRG Stadium.

Houston Texans Fans travel to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for the tenth game of the 2019 NFL season against the Ravens.

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