Thomas B. Shea
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt made life miserable for Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco, although the stats may not look like it.
The statistics don't even come remotely close to telling the true story. Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco finished the 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans with a stat line that read 21 for 43 for 147 yards, one TD and two interceptions. He was sacked four times for 26 yards. His longest completion of the entire day was only 15 yards and his QB Rating was a dismal 45.4.
On the other side, Texans DE J.J. Watt finished the game with only two tackles and two passes defensed. He hit Flacco in the act of passing, but did not sack him even one time. Judging purely by the numbers, Watt had a unmemorable day for the same reason Flacco did. Nothing good stands out from just looking at the final stats.
However, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. As bad as Flacco's game was, Watts was just the opposite,as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate had as much a hand in Flacco's poor performance as Joe himself did. Watt's two passes defensed in the record books were actually blocks while he was rushing the passer. The Texans blocked eight passes on the day, equally distributed around their front seven.
At the same time, it was the numbers that didn't happen that affected the outcome as much as the ones that did. Watt's ability to sense the moment of the pass prevented Flacco from throwing a lot more often than the statistics showed. At the moment he saw Joe's non-passing hand come off the ball, alerting him that the QB was in the process of throwing the ball, Watt timed his disruptive nature to perfection.
The inability of the Ravens and specifically Flacco to compensate for this scheme led to the downfall of the passing game. the pass rushers ultimately knew that reaching the quarterback was not necessarily the goal, as they could stop their rush as soon as they saw the QB beginning his release and then just disrupt the throw, leading to not only completions, but what ended as as two interceptions off of tipped passes, including that was returned for a Texans touchdown.
The offensive line couldn't grasp what was happening and stop the jump by pushing the defender backwards, and Flacco could notplan early in the drop-back to double-pump the defense into jumping too early. Not having an offensive line that could slow down the Texans pass rush certainly didn't help, but there certainly was every opportunity to make an attempt to compensate for what was happening over and over again.
Granted, the Texans could easily be the toughest defense the Ravens will face for the rest of the season. However, right now, the path to the Super Bowl goes through Houston and Reliant Stadium. If the Ravens hope to have the chance to exact revenge, then figuring out to avoid a repeat of this might be in order for the team's coaching staff, Flacco and his offensive line.