What They're Saying About Suggs' Return
It only took Terrell Suggs seven minutes to notch his first sack after returning from a torn Achilles tendon.
As he stood at the Texans' 25-yard line with his eyes looking to the sky and his arms raised above his head and spread open, CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf narrated what Suggs might be thinking in the moment:
Less than six months after surgery, Suggs shocked the NFL by cutting a usual Achilles tendon rehab process in half. He applied quarterback pressure against the Texans, he solidly defended against the run, he matched receivers step for step in coverage, he batted balls at the line of scrimmage … he did it all.
"I'm not quite sure I've ever seen anything quite like this, where with only three practices under his belt, Terrell Suggs is out on the football field. This is nothing short of remarkable," Dierdorf said.
"I didn't see this coming, and if you say you did, you are in the minority. I've talked to a lot of NFL people and a lot of observers and I don't think anyone saw him taking this many snaps."
Dierdorf wasn't the only one in amazement seeing Suggs defy odds. Here's what they're saying around the NFL:
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com):Every time I watched Terrell Suggs rush Matt Schaub, I wanted to cue Al Michaels' "Do you believe in miracles?" from the 1980 Olympics. I mean, the guy's playing six months after tearing his Achilles? You gotta be kidding me.
Ashley Fox (ESPN): Suggs was unreal: Seriously, the man is a freak of nature. Sure, he looks like he's put on a few pounds during his rehabilitation. But no one aside from maybe Suggs himself thought he would be back on the playing field this early. In November, maybe. But Week 7? That was insane. On his seventh play of the game, Suggs sacked Schaub. He played approximately 35 snaps in the first half, and more in the second even though the game was out of hand. We will see how he bounces back following his first game action, but it was an impressive return.
Jeff Zrebiec (The Baltimore Sun): Suggs said he would shock everybody when he returns. Mission accomplished.
Aaron Wilson (The Sun): Suggs did serve notice that he has recovered from a serious injury initially expected to sideline him until much later in the season. … Playing well over his usual playing weight of 260 pounds, Suggs' stamina wasn't his strong suit. However, he did display a burst of quickness and was able to physically set the edge when the Texans ran directly at him.
Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk.com): When Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon during the offseason, he might have been the only person alive who seriously believed he could play as soon as October. But he was right.
Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown, who had to block Suggs: I have to tip my hat off to him. It's amazing to see a guy bounce back from an injury like that so quickly. He looked like he didn't miss a beat. He's still quick, strong, fast and still very instinctive. That was a heck of an effort to get back from an injury like that.
Schaub Hilariously Abandons Block On Suggs
Of all the Suggs highlights – and there are many – my favorite was when Texans quarterback Matt Schaub did all he could to jump out of the way after second-guessing a block he was about to attempt on the 260-pound linebacker (that's his listed weight, but it's likely more) during an Arian Foster cut-back run.
I can't find video of it, so if anyone out there can, please post it in the comments section below. It is priceless.
Schaub explained what was going through his head as he lowered his should for the block, and then suddenly changed his mind.
"I saw [Foster] cut-back and I saw a couple of guys, especially 55 [Suggs] coming at me and I didn't want to get in the way," he said.
"[Suggs'] eyes lit up pretty big right there, so once Arian got around me and got to the first down, I just wanted to get out of the way."
While Schaub didn't make any contact with Suggs, Foster was still able to get to the edge and picked up a first down on a third-and-3. Teammate Andre Johnson was asked about Schaub's effort to abandon ship.
"I saw Matt standing there. I didn't see that actual block," he said. "It was funny because he came to me on the sideline and was like, 'Hey, man, if they're running back toward me, can I cut the guy coming at me?' And I'm like, 'No, man. You can't do that. Just get out of the way.'"
And he did.
Added Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak: "[Schaub] asked me about his block, and I told him I didn't think there was much to talk about there."
Suggs Responds To Texans Hecklers
The books are not closed on this 2012 rivalry, says Suggs.
If Houston and Baltimore continue down the road they're on now, they have a good chance of meeting again in the postseason.
According to Yahoo! Sports'* *Eric Adelson, there were a few hecklers in the front row of Reliant Stadium, hanging a Ravens doll from a string.
They got the attention of Suggs, as he clapped, nodded and grinned at the group.
"We gonna see you again!" he said.
Aldeson wasn't so sure about Suggs' prediction, but the columnist added that Suggs' response, and overall play, embodies a style and attitude the Ravens defense traditionally has had, but seems to have lost.
"Everyone else will hit the panic button," Suggs told Aldeson, who described Suggs as grabbing his suitcase and striding theatrically out of the visitors' locker room. "That's when we'll have 'em right where we want 'em."
Texans Clearly Best Team In AFC
Sunday's game was perfectly set up to answer the question that was on everyone's minds.
Who is the best AFC team? The Houston Texans or the Baltimore Ravens? They were the only two AFC teams with winning records heading into Week 7, both tied with a 5-1 mark.
The answer was clear, decisive and undeniable in the Ravens' 43-13 loss.
"The teams with the two best records in the AFC met on Sunday in Houston, but only the Texans looked like contenders. The Ravens looked like pretenders," wrote Smith. "This Ravens team looks like it has a lot of problems — about as many problems as a 5-2 team can have. But this Texans team is tremendous. Definitely the best team in the AFC."
Don Banks had the same conclusion, "Houston is the clear-cut class of the AFC. It may or may not matter come January, but being the best team in even a down year for the conference carries a little cache' for these Texans."
At 6-1, Houston holds a one-game advantage over Baltimore in the conference, but the manner in which it threw the Ravens out of the bar, using the words of Head Coach John Harbaugh, the lead feels more like two or three games.
Still, there is hope for Baltimore …
A Lesson Ravens Can Learn From Texans
While Houston gets the AFC bragging rights for now, the Ravens would be wise to learn a lesson from the team that handed them a beat down.
A week ago at this time, pundits were saying the Texans were soft after getting demolished by the Green Bay Packers. Critics attributed Houston's 5-1 record to an easy schedule, and said they couldn't stand up to playoff-caliber teams.
What a difference a week and a win makes.
"Gary Kubiak's team won its self-respect back. And it reacquired a little bit of the necessary swagger that helped Houston start this season 5-0, before last week's humbling 42-24 comedown at the hands of the visiting Green Bay Packers," wrote Sports Illustrated's Don Banks.
"Sunday gave Houston the belief that last week was the aberration, and the showing against Baltimore was all about a return to normalcy and the business of winning."
Now it's the Ravens who will look to earn back their self-respect after admitting they were "embarrassed." The critics aren't going easy on them either.
"It's too bad the Baltimore Ravens weren't in their black uniforms Sunday," CBSSports.com Pete Prisco wrote. "After all, black is appropriate for a funeral, and that's what we had in Reliant Stadium. It was the burial of the Ravens as we know them. …
"The Ravens defensive swagger is gone. The fear they once instilled in opponents is no more. … [Y]ou had the feeling an era was over and the nastiness was gone."
With a bye ahead and some time to get rested, the Ravens too can shift the narrative with a decisive win. It will be a little more difficult since Baltimore faces two teams with losing records (Browns and Raiders) when they return, but they can get the momentum moving their way again.
To show that Sunday's loss was simply an aberration, and not a trend, Baltimore can and must bounce back like the Texans did this week.
"The Ravens will have to learn that lesson now too," Prisco said.
League Investigating Reed Injury
Safety Ed Reed told a Baltimore radio station last week that he has been playing with a slightly torn labrum, which raised questions as to why he wasn't on the Ravens injury report.
The next day, Reed downplayed the injury, but the league still launched an inquiry to determine why the team hasn't listed No. 20 on the injury report, according to The Baltimore Sun.
"Yes, we are looking into it," league spokesman Greg Aiello emailed to the newspaper.
"We are aware that they are reviewing practice and game video," the Ravens said in a statement.
The NFL fined the Bills and Redskins $20,000 apiece Friday for their reporting of injuries. Washington told reporters that quarterback Robert Griffin III was only "shaken up" when he suffered a mild concussion. The Bills didn't list Mario Williams' sprained left wrist.
Stats That Are Tough To Look At
- The Ravens' 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans marked the largest margin of defeat for Baltimore in Harbaugh's five seasons, a span of 80 games. [ESPN]
- Joe Flacco had a Total QBR (a metric that accounts for everything a QB does) of 0.3 in Sunday's loss to the Texans, the lowest in a single game by any player over the last 5 seasons (min. 30 action plays). [ESPN Stats and Information]
- The deeper the pass attempt, the more ineffective Flacco was against the Texans on Sunday. Flacco finished 5-of-18 on throws deeper than five yards downfield, including 0-7 on throws at least 10 yards downfield. [ESPN Stats and Information]
- The Ravens could not pressure Schaub with five or more pass rushers Sunday. Schaub was 8-for-8 for 85 yards and a touchdown pass when the Ravens sent five or more pass rushers. Entering the game, Schaub had completed 52.5 percent (32-61) of his passes against at least five rushers, 27th in the league. [ESPN Stats and Information]
- The Texans romped over the Ravens, gaining 420 yards in a 43-13 victory. Baltimore has allowed 2,800* *yards through seven games this season, for an average of exactly 400 yards per game. That's the Ravens' highest seven-game yardage allowance since 1996, when Ray Lewis was a 21-year-old rookie. [Elias Sports Bureau]
- "I'm sure Cam Cameron will get a lot of flack these next two weeks for ignoring Ray Rice, but this was a collective dud," Matt Vensel. [The Baltimore Sun]
- "Jimmy Smith doesn't appear close to showing the potential he had as the team's first-round pick in 2011," wrote Edward Lee. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Rookie offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele on batted balls at the line of scrimmage: "There's nothing really you can do in that situation." [The Baltimore Sun]
- Reed told Suggs not to take an unnecessary risk by playing in Houston, according to Ed Werner. [ESPN]
- @albertbreer [NFL Network]: That Bernard Pollard penalty is Exhibit A for offensive players being too protected in this era. [Twitter]
- @ravensinsider [Wilson]: Bernard Pollard declined interview request, saying, "I have nothing good to say." [Twitter]
- @torreysmithwr: We got our [butts] kicked..gotta give credit when it is due..we will see them again down the road..we will take advantage of this bye week [Twitter]
- @albertbreer: Best news in the NFL today (by far): Chuck Pagano released from the hospital. [Twitter]