Texans -- Ravens: 4 Winners, 4 Losers (Including J.J. Watt, Arian Foster & Connor Barwin)
Check out our slideshow of Battle Red Day at Reliant Stadium.
Photo by Marco Torres Wrapping them up
"It's just one game."
"Nobody would have beaten Aaron Rodgers tonight."
"Hey, if someone had told you before the season they'd be 5-1 going into the Ravens game, you'd have taken it, right?"
Those are just a few of the dozens of different ways Texans fans and media rationalized last weekend's 42-24 beatdown at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Overall, the mood this week could best be described as cautiously optimistic (but with ample whiskey nearby). I think they're still a really good football team, but that sure did look a lot like 2010 on Sunday.
The Ravens came into Reliant banged up, undermanned and still with Joe Flacco as their quarterback. If you're Baltimore, none of those things are good. All things considered, if you're going to chase an 18-point loss with a game against a 5-1 team, the Ravens were the 5-1 team you wanted to face.
But until the Texans took the field Sunday, we just wouldn't know. We wouldn't know if this was really a team that should still be the favorite on the board in Vegas to win the Super Bowl, and about ten minutes into the game, we still didn't know.
But starting at the 10:11 mark of the first quarter, we started to find out. That's when Connor Barwin sacked Joe Flacco in the end zone. And that's where we begin this week's edition of "4 Winners, 4 Losers"...
4. The return of Connor Barwin
It's too soon to say unequivocally that the six-game disappearance of Barwin was just some blip on the radar, or if what Gary Kubiak has been saying the last few weeks, that Barwin has been doing fine and has been doing what's asked of him, is true. All I know is that the Barwin of 2011 showed up Sunday, making a game-changing play when the team really needed a shot of adrenaline by sacking Joe Flacco in the end zone. The Texans were still behind 3-2 after that play, but the momentum shift was palpable and the seeds of the eventual rout were planted. Welcome back, Connor Barwin. Hell, welcome back to....
3. The rest of the defense not named J.J. Watt
One pervasive talk radio topic this week (I feel like all of the shows and stations just use the same topics and pass them around sometimes) after the Packers game was "Which players on the Texans defense had met or exceeded expectations so far this year?" We were able to come up with a few -- Kareem Jackson, Glover Quin, Danieal Manning -- but the topic mostly served as another way for all of us to worship at the altar of J.J. Watt and wonder when the rest of last season's bulls would decide to jump in on the parade. Fast forward to Sunday -- Quin's typical solid game, Barwin's aforementioned impact, Johnathan Joseph's pick six, Antonio Smith's two sacks. We even got Whitney Mercilus's first career sack! ("First of many," his words, not mine. Well, actually mine, too.) Let's just say it was good to have all of the bulls back today.
2. Arian Foster's workload pace
The last two games (17 carries last week, 19 carries on Sunday) have allowed Texan fans to dial back the alert level on their fear that Gary Kubiak is actually a football terrorist working on behalf of the rest of the league to prematurely end Arian Foster's career. He's now at 168 carries through seven games, on pace for 384, which is still dangerously close to the red "SEVERE" bar on the Foster Terror Scale, but probably more like an orange "HIGH" level trending toward yellow "ELEVATED."
The Texans are now 1-0 this season with a WWE superstar leading them onto the field as something called the Homefield Advantage Captain, as five-time World Champion and Houston native Booker T did the honors. I'm putting my request in with the Texans PR team now -- bring us the Iron Sheik for the Buffalo game! The Sheik loves football and he hates Buffalo...
if you watch the nfl football and you respect the Sheikie by my t shirt indiemerch.com/theironsheik/ or go fuck yourself worse than dog shit buffalo— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) October 21, 2012
4. Dan Dierdorf's undying love for Terrell Suggs
In case you missed it, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was able to suit up and play yesterday after tearing his Achilles a mere six months ago. It really is an amazing comeback, even if he was having to borrow Terrence Cody's XXXXL jersey because he evidently hasn't done a minute of cardio during his rehab.