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It was the third quarter and Houston’s offense had just shown its big-play potential, heaving a 32-yard touchdown pass over Ed Reed’s head to take a one-point lead.
Baltimore’s offense responded with a rush for no yards, then a pass in the flats that went for two yards. It was then backed up five yards for delay of game.
Suddenly, it looked like the Ravens’ offense could be in for another lull that plagued it against the New York Jets before the bye.
Instead, Baltimore started firing.
First it was a 19-yard gain to rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith. Then a 51-yarder to Smith. The next drive began with a 56-yard heave to Anquan Boldin.
The Ravens’ offense, operating once again without speedster Lee Evans, was alive – and it started with the big plays it has added to its arsenal this season.
“That’s what you have to do against a team like this,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “You can’t just shut them down and try to hang on and win a game. … You have to keep it going, you have to mix it up and really be aggressive.”
Flacco’s 19-yard strike to Smith was his second catch of the game and came when the Texans’ defense jumped offside. With a free play, Flacco fired a pass into tight coverage to find the rookie second-round draft pick.
The next play wasn’t designed to be a deep shot, but when Smith flew by his cornerback, then got over top Texans safety Danieal Manning, Flacco put it up. Smith had to slow down a bit and still hauled in the 51-yarder with room to spare.
It was Smith’s first big play since his Week 3 coming out party against the St. Louis Rams, in which he scored three touchdowns on his first three NFL catches.
“We just had to change the momentum,” said Smith, who finished with three grabs for 84 yards. “To have that big play, it definitely brought our offense to life some and we needed it.”
The Ravens settled for a field goal on that drive to retake the lead. After the Texans punted on their next possession, Baltimore dialed up another shot – only this one was a planned bomb, Flacco said.
Boldin, who had been previously moving the chains with intermediate catches against cornerback Johnathan Joseph’s man-to-man coverage, went deep along the left sideline. Joseph was on him tight, but Boldin went up and made a play for a 56-yard gain.
“I was just trying to pretty much box him out,” Boldin said. “I saw the ball the entire time and kind of knew where it was going to fall, so I kind of bodied him, and he jumped early and misjudged it.”
Boldin finished with eight catches for 132 yards. It was the most yards he’s had in a game since his third as a Raven last year, when he notched eight catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns.
“When they’re running by their guys, you just put it out there for them and they go get it,” Flacco said of Boldin and Smith.