The Ravens' season-opening victory over the Texans came at quite a cost
Mon, Sep 11, 2023
NFL News (AP)
BALTIMORE (AP) - J.K. Dobbins was a picture of health when he jumped into the end zone for the game's first touchdown.
Two quarters later, his season was over.
Dobbins' torn Achilles tendon was the biggest blow to the Baltimore Ravens in a 25-9 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday that came at quite a cost. The standout running back - who is in the last year of his rookie contract - now faces a long road back, and he's not the only Baltimore player who was injured in the game. Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that safety Marcus Williams could be out a while with a pectoral problem.
"May not be a season-ender though," Harbaugh said. "There's different options that he has, so we'll keep you updated on that soon because he'll have to make a decision soon on a possible surgery there."
Harbaugh said center Tyler Linderbaum is week to week with a sprained ankle, and tackle Ronnie Stanley has a sprained knee.
Aside from those injuries, the Ravens (1-0) have other concerns, such as an offense that struggled to get untracked. But in the end, they did win fairly comfortably. With a schedule that includes three divisional road games in the first five weeks, Baltimore did what it needed to do at home against one of the NFL's worst teams from a season ago.
Harbaugh said he didn't think the Ravens would look outside the organization for running back help. Melvin Gordon was signed before the season and has been on the practice squad.
"He's here for a reason," Harbaugh said. "Certainly didn't expect it to be this quick, but that's why he's here. That's why he wanted to stay here because he likes it here. He likes the offense, and he likes the environment."
The linebacking duo of Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen picked up where it left off a season ago. Each had a sack. Smith had 16 tackles and Queen had 11.
The Texans let C.J. Stroud, a rookie making his first start, throw 44 times. That suggested a lack of confidence in their ability to run the ball against the Ravens.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
If Ravens fans were looking forward to a coming-out party for their offense under new coordinator Todd Monken, they didn't really get one. Baltimore managed only two drives longer than 26 yards, and quarterback Lamar Jackson turned the ball over twice.
Jackson led the Ravens in rushing with 38 yards, but even his elusiveness didn't prevent Houston from sacking him four times.
"He wanted to sit in the pocket as much as he could, more than he wanted to run. He was trying to stay in the pocket," Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard said. "It kind of worked to our advantage at times. We wanted to attack him going into the game, and him staying in the pocket, it made our job easier."
There were some concerns about Baltimore's pass rush following the departures of Justin Houston and Calais Campbell, but the Ravens sacked Stroud five times. David Ojabo, who missed most of his rookie season while recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, forced a fumble with his sack, and Odafe Oweh was credited with three quarterback hits after he had 11 all of last season.
Baltimore's offensive line returned four of its starters from last season, but the Ravens didn't look ready to deal with Houston's defensive front.
"It's a lot of moving parts. We have to get the parts moving more in sync, and it's early in the season," Harbaugh said. "It's not unexpected, but I promise you, we want to be chasing perfection. We really don't want to be not hitting on all gears at any time, and so, we'll be working really hard to get better in all those areas this week. That's what the tone in the locker room was last night for sure."
CB Marlon Humphrey (foot) did not play in the opener. Harbaugh said he has a shot to play this weekend but didn't make any promises.
"It's pretty early in the process," Harbaugh said.
10 - The number of targets for rookie receiver Zay Flowers, who caught nine of them for 78 yards. No other Baltimore player was targeted more than three times. Jackson had raved about Flowers, so it was no surprise he was heavily involved.
Baltimore heads back to the place where its 2022 season ended when the Ravens play at Cincinnati this weekend. The Bengals beat Baltimore 24-17 in the playoffs in January.
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