Something’s Gotta Give

Both the Ravens and Texans have gotten out of the gate fast.

Posted by Billy Jones on Friday, October 14th, 2011 at 10:25 am | Categories: Billy Jones, Week 6 vs Texans

In last year’s contest in Houston, the Ravens came out firing from the opening kickoff.

Baltimore jumped out to a big advantage when Derrick Mason hauled in a touchdown catch with one minute, thirty-seven seconds left in the first half, giving Baltimore a 21-0 lead. Houston turned the tide in the second half, scoring 21 points of their own and sending the game to overtime, eventually falling short.

Head Coach Gary Kubiak knows that keeping the Ravens in check early will allow his team to get into the flow of the game and avoid another deficit.

“We just got so down in the game,” Kubiak remembered. “[The Ravens] got after us pretty darn good. We got down, and we had to change our mode, what we were doing, and try to get ourselves back in the ballgame.”

Like the game last season, the Ravens have been able to jump on their opponents early this season and take control of the contest. Baltimore holds a 52-7 advantage is the first quarter and have forced four first-half turnovers.

While the Texans started slowly and were outscored 78-40 in first halves through the first five games of 2010, their performance this year in the opening 30 minutes has been the complete opposite. Through five games this season, Houston is outscoring their opponents 90-25, including 47-6 in the first quarter.

Houston and Baltimore’s advantage in the first quarter could add up to an early test for the defenses.

Coincidentally, neither team has surrendered a point on the opposition’s first drive of the game, either forcing a punt or turnover. Something has to give, and John Harbaugh knows that.

“They’ve jumped out to big leads in the first quarter – big leads in the first half,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve done pretty well in the first quarter, too, so something has got to give. It’s going to be really important, I think, to start the game well. Both teams are going to try to do that.”

The importance of starting fast has not been lost on Joe Flacco either.

“We want to start fast each week,” Flacco stated. “Especially this week, I think it is even more important just because Houston has been starting pretty quick themselves. We want to get out and put pressure on them right away.”

Red zone struggles

While both teams have excelled at scoring early in games, they have also both struggled in red zone efficiency so far in 2011.

Baltimore and Houston will enter Sunday’s game tied for 27th in the NFL in red zone efficiency. Each team is scoring touchdowns at 33.3 percent, prompting Harbaugh and the Ravens to focus on it during practice.

“You work at it and try to come up with some decent schemes,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think anybody works harder at it than we do. We spend pretty much practice time every single day, and we spent every single day in training camp, with it. We think it’s something we can be successful at. We haven’t been as successful as we want, but we need to be.”

In the 2010 contest between the teams, the Ravens went a perfect 3-3 inside the 20, and the Texans were 2-3. Last season, the Texans finished 5th in the NFL in red zone efficiency, but this year has been a different story.

“Last year we were an excellent red-zone team,” Kubiak stated. “And this year we’re struggling big time. The good news is we’ve been down there a lot, so you want to be down there and have your opportunities. But, it’s part of this game. You’ve got to find a way to get sevens and not threes.”

On Sunday, a fast start and efficient trips to the red zone could go a long way in determining the winner.

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