Buoyed by momentum-swinging touchdown returns from Daryl Smith and Tandon Doss in the second quarter, the Baltimore Ravens ran away with a 30-9 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
After falling behind early, the Ravens scored 17 unanswered points, with Smith's 37-yard interception return and Doss' 82-yard punt return capping the stretch and helping Baltimore (2-1) to a lead it would not relinquish.
"Two huge plays by the defense and the special teams," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said.
On a day the Ravens inducted former All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis into the club's Ring of Honor, the team's defense didn't allow an offensive touchdown for the second consecutive week and held the Texans to 102 second-half yards.
Bernard Pierce scored a touchdown for Baltimore while starting at running back for the injured Ray Rice, Justin Tucker connected on a trio of field goals, and Joe Flacco completed 16-of-24 throws for 171 yards in the victory.
Safety Ed Reed had a quiet return to Baltimore in his season debut with the Texans (2-1), who had just four offensive drives in the second half and lost wide receiver Andre Johnson to a leg injury.
Matt Schaub ended 25-for-35 passing for 194 yards and an interception in the setback. Houston, which was flagged for 14 penalties for 113 yards, trailed at halftime for the third straight game.
The Ravens were sluggish offensively early, managing just 24 yards of offense through their first three drives. However, the defense made key stops and the team took control over a 3 1/2-minute stretch late in the second quarter.
The Texans failed to convert scoring opportunities into touchdowns early, forced instead into a pair of Randy Bullock field goals for a 6-0 lead. The Ravens got going on their fourth drive, with a defensive pass interference penalty on Kareem Jackson moving the team into the red zone before Tucker sliced their deficit in half with a 28-yard boot.
Houston then found itself playing from behind after the conclusion of its third play on the ensuing series. Schaub was picked off by Smith, who rumbled down the sideline for a touchdown and a 10-6 Ravens lead.
Doss extended the margin for Baltimore soon after. The Texans were forced to punt after a three-and-out, and the return man cut his way through a wave of defenders -- dodging a last ditch effort by punter Shane Lechler before toeing his way down the right sideline for an 82-yard score.
"Over a 4-play sequence, we give them 14 points," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's where the game turned, and we were playing catch-up all game long."
Schaub made the most of the remaining 45 seconds in the half, completing all four of his throws to move Houston to the Ravens' 29. Bullock then kicked one through from 47 yards out to keep the Texans within 17-9 at the break.
Torrey Smith and Flacco got in a groove on Baltimore's opening possession of the third. The wideout burned cornerback Jonathan Joseph down the sideline, and Flacco found him for a 48-yard gain. He had another long reception overturned two plays later, but after the review, took a short pass from Flacco 24 yards inside the Houston 10. Pierce capped the march with a 1-yard plunge to open a comfortable 24-9 lead for the Ravens.
The Texans had to punt on their first two drives of second half, then sealed their fate after turning the ball over on downs on their next touch. Tucker added field goals of 45 and 43 yards to finish off Baltimore's impressive win.
The two teams combined for 15 penalties in the first half for a total of 143 yards ... Reed made just three tackles in the game. The nine-time Pro Bowler played his first 11 seasons with the Ravens ... Lewis, who retired following the Ravens' Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers this past February, played his entire 17-year career with Baltimore ... DeAndre Hopkins led the Texans with six catches for 60 yards and Johnson made five receptions for 36 yards before getting injured ... Pierce totaled 65 yards on 24 carries.