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John Harbaugh explains how J.J. Watt, Texans defense had so much success

Harbaugh credited Houston's scheme on the defensive side of the ball.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed absurd, the fact that both Rick Wagner and James Hurst were left single blocking Texans defensive end J.J. Watt time and time again.

There's a reason he's one of the favorites to win the NFL's Most Valuable Player award. And therefore, someone like Watt should command much more attention than what was showed — at least in real time.

But as Ravens coach John Harbaugh put it, the offense really didn't have much of a choice in how they blocked him. With Watt's ability, and the strength of the inside linebackers, it became an issue of picking which poison to deal with.

"You can't chip when they have two guys up in the ‘A' gap — it makes it impossible to chip," Harbaugh told reporters on Monday. "Your only option would be max protection, and then you have really one guy out on a route. They did a nice job with the game plan. They did a good job protecting J.J. and making sure he got single blocks."

Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel seemed determined to send as much pressure as he could, as if he knew the Ravens wouldn't be able to handle it. Joe Flacco wasn't able to, routinely throwing the ball off his back foot and inaccurately toward his receivers. Granted, his wideouts didn't do him favors at times either, with a good example is Torrey Smith falling on an otherwise regular in route. Still, the pressure got to Flacco and he panicked. That was by design and something the Ravens dealt with when it came to blocking Watt.

"So, it's not just as simple as some would claim — just chip your way out — because they don't always allow you to do that," Harbaugh said. "They know what they are doing when they line their defense up, and we do the same thing with our guys. You wonder why [Elvis] Dumervil and [Terrell] Suggs don't get chipped as much as they do - it's because we're not allowing them to do it. It's a chess game, and they did a good job with it. And they always do. [Texans defensive coordinator] Romeo Crennel is a great defensive coordinator."