Savage Struggles under Pressure

Late in the second quarter the Texans faced 3rd and goal on the eight-yard line. Savage looked for C.J.Fiedorowicz on a skinny post in the end zone. Savage felt the pressure from linebackers Matt Judon and Terrell Suggs. He was not able to step into his throw. The ball ended up high and behind Fiedorowicz. The drive ended in a field goal instead of a touchdown.

Savage turned the ball over three times on Monday throwing two interceptions and fumbling on a strip sack. Savage is now leading the league with seven lost fumbles. He was sacked two times and was hit eight times.

The Texans quarterback has shown he can be adequate with a clean pocket, but the same cannot be said when he is under pressure. His two interceptions came when he was under pressure and rushed his throws. In both cases he shorted armed his throws to get the ball out faster and overlooked the defenders in short zones. If Savage wants to earn shot for another team next season he will need to show better poise in the pocket.

Vintage Suggs

Sometimes it is easy to forget just how great certain players are, but Monday night Terrell Suggs would not let us forget. The 15-year veteran was the best player on the field which should not surprise anyone. The 2011 NFL Defensive MVP finished the game with two sacks, three quarterback hits, a forced fumble and knocked down a pass. A week 12 defensive player of the week award could be in his future.

Only time will tell if Terrell Suggs becomes enshrined in Canton, but it should not shock anyone. Suggs reminded us just how disruptive he can be. Suggs could be in the top 15 in career sacks and we should all enjoy watching him while we still can.

Decisive 4th Downs

Baltimore had very little success on third down converting only three of 14 chances.  The opposite is true on 4th down with the Ravens converting both chances.

In the second quarter with the ball at the Texan’s 41-yard line John Harbaugh decided it was time for a fake punt.  Ravens’ punter Sam Koch completed a 22 yard pass to wide receiver Chris Moore. Mooreeffectively appeared to be covering a punt only looking for the ball at the last minute giving them the ball on the Houston 19-yard line. Two plays later Javorius Allen took a handoff 11 yards for a touchdown.

On the Ravens next drive, they faced 4th and 1 on the Houston 37-yard line. Baltimore lined up in a heavy I-formation with Alex Collins the deepest back. Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg took advantage of the over aggressive Texans defense with Alex Collins running 29 yards for a first down. Collins scored on the next play.

Two plays do not typically decide a game, but that was not the case on Monday. The 4th down failures took the wind out of an otherwise strong defensive showing, two fourth down conversions turned into the only two Ravens touchdowns.

Standup Clowney

If you have been paying attention you may notice that Clowney is frequently mentioned in this column.  Some may wonder why that is? It is because he is damn good.

The South Carolina player has finally reached his potential. His versatility is key to the success of the Texans defense. He lined up on both ends of the offensive line, but he also lined up frequently as a standup linebacker three yards off the line of scrimmage. This is not the first time Mike Vrabel has used this defense scheme, but this is the first time it has been used extensively.

Clowney was a nightmare for the Ravens when he lined up as a standing linebacker. He worked up a head of steam and used his agility to gain an advantage. The Ravens interior offensive line looked ill prepared to deal with this defensive wrinkle. Vrabel and Romeo Crennel will need to continue to find ways to keep Clowney in good matchups Clowney was effective in all aspects of Monday’s game. He produced a sack, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. Clowney surge is continuing and it seems like it is the new normal.

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