Ravens report card: Defense

Ravens report card: Defense
September 23, 2013, 10:45 am

Lewis returns, sparks Ravens over Houston

For the Ravens, Sunday's 30-9 victory over the Houston Texans looked a whole lot like the old days. Great defense setting the tone for just enough offense plus a lot of help from special teams. The formula's often worked for the Ravens, and it did well again in this game. Here's a report card on defense and special teams.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A- This group was a force. They stopped the Houston running game and disrupted the passing attack by often getting in quarterback Matt Schaub's face. The passing pressure proved crucial because the Texans went to the air for most of the second half after the Ravens took a big lead. But guys like Haloti Ngata wouln't let Schaub sit back there in the pocket, something that's crucial. 

LINEBACKERS: B+  Another solid effort as they keep improving. Daryl Smith interception return for a TD in the second quarter completely changed the game and he was everyone once again, finishing with 10 tackles. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil again got lots of good quarterback pressure, adding to what the D line did, which made Schaub's life miserable. 

SECONDARY: A-  The secondary helped take away the big plays that the Texans love. They wouldn't let the Texans' receivers get open and made the necessary tackles. Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb were strong on the corners and safeties Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo made a lot of good plays -- this group helped shut down the passing and running games, not an easy task against this team.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B+  Even though they had a good day overall, they've got to do something about the penalties which keep hurting the team. If they don't, they'll keep happening. Sam Koch had a strong day punting once more, blasting some good punts when the Ravens were caught in bad field position in the first half. Justin Tucker got back on the stick by going 3-for-3 with field goals, and Tandon Doss' 82-yard punt return for a touchdown really helped change the game.  

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