In each of the past two games, the Ravens opponent drove inside the 10-yard line on their first drive of the game. But in each case, the Ravens defense stood firm, holding the opponent to a field goal.
In fact, the Ravens have now gone eight quarters without allowing a touchdown, and in both of those games, the Ravens' stone-wall defense in the red zone, especially early in the game, helped dictate the outcome.
Cleveland connected on a 53-yard pass to tight end Jordan Cameron on the Browns' first play of the game, setting up first and goal at the Ravens' 7-yard line. But the Ravens held Trent Richardson to 3 yards on the next two plays, and a third-down pass fell incomplete. The Browns had to settle for a field goal.
Then this past week, Houston marched right down the field to begin the game. But on first-and-goal from the 8, Arian Foster was stuffed for a 1-yard loss by James Ihedigbo. Matt Schaub then threw two straight incompletions, and the Texans, like Cleveland, had to settle for a field goal.
With the Ravens offense struggling to find its legs early in games, giving up three points instead of seven has been huge. That kept the Ravens within striking distance, and in both games they overcame 6-0 deficits that easily could have been 14-0.
"Any time you keep a team out of the end zone, it gives you confidence," linebacker Terrell Suggs said.
Ravens opponents reached the red zone three times in the past two games and failed to score a touchdown.
That continues a tradition of red-zone stinginess that has defined the Ravens defense for years.
Last season, the Ravens ranked second in the league in red zone defense, allowing a touchdown 43.4 percent of the time. (And that was only in the regular season. It doesn't even count their greatest red-zone stand ever, on the 49ers final possession of the Super Bowl.) The Ravens ranked No. 1 in red zone defense two years ago (38.1 pct.) and have been in the top five for nine years in a row.
“We know in the secondary that we have to play to a certain level if we want this team to go where we plan on it, where our goals are," Ihedigbo said after the Houston game. "Once again, at the top of our goals on our board is no touchdowns."