In the first quarter of Sunday's matchup in Houston, the Baltimore Ravens were up 7-0 over the Texans. With 1:44 left in the opening period, Houston was knocking on the door of their end zone, hoping to tie the game and gain momentum going into the second quarter.
But the Ravens' defense shut that door on quarterback Sage Rosenfels and Co.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata!(/team/roster/haloti-ngata/9225ada6-37a5-4b66-9776-1b6e4df2fb50/ "Haloti Ngata") led the effort when he tipped, and then intercepted, a Rosenfels pass intended for tight end Owen Daniels in the end zone.
"It was real big. I was lucky to be in the right spot at the right time," Ngata said. "I was happy to make that play. They were driving the ball and it killed their momentum."
"Ngata] dominated the line of scrimmage like nobody else in this league right now,” added head coach [**John Harbaugh**. "Our guys rise up and stop them when they have to. I think that's the trademark of our defense, and that's why I'm so proud of them."
Ngata's was the first of four Baltimore interceptions that the Texans' quarterback would throw in the 41-13 Ravens victory.
"Best play of the game, right there," mused cornerback **Samari Rolle**. "[Ngata] kept them off of the scoreboard. We got more momentum, and we were able to finish them in the second half."
Ngata's second interception of the season was not his only game-changing contribution to the defense, or the offense for that matter.
The 6-4, 345-pound tackle played in all three phases of the game.
His size allows for versatility in multiple roles in the Ravens' game plan. Ngata has proven to be very effective in offensive goal-line situations and even special teams coverage, in addition to his usual defensive responsibilities.
He proved he could stop a touchdown in the first quarter, but in the third quarter, Ngata demonstrated how he could also assist in making one happen.
The Ravens began their first drive of the second half at their own 25-yard line. Five minutes and one defensive pass interference call later, the Ravens were sitting on the Texans 1-yard line looking for their fourth score of the game.
Ngata played on the offensive line and helped open up a lane to allow running back **Willis McGahee** to run for the first of his two touchdowns on the day.
"I definitely love doing it," Ngata said of playing on the offensive side of the ball. "It's fun to do something different. It's great that they are trusting me. It's a lot of fun."
He also served his role well on special teams in punt coverage, lining up over top of 265-pound long-snapper Bryan Pittman.
"They wanted me to just stick on that center and push him back and not let him get off it, Ngata said. "That's my job. I didn't realize how close I was on that second one. It was great."
Now back to the defense.
The pressure that No. 92 got on the quarterback was key. It directly caused at least one interception by Ray Lewis!(/team/roster/ray-lewis/1c6d5ed3-fe49-4a89-a6b5-9e358e906ae7/ "Ray Lewis"), when Ngata hurried Rosenfels into throwing directly at the linebacker.
"We saw a lot of us closing in on the pocket, pushing that pocket in," Ngata said. "We are definitely working a lot on that and it's showing."
Ngata's force in the middle also helped to keep the Ravens defense strong against the run. Baltimore turned in their 28th-straight game without allowing a 100-yard rusher and only allowed 75 total yards on the ground at Houston.
According to the defensive statistics from the press box records, Ngata finished the day with one tackle, two quarterback hits, one interception and three passes defensed.
But his contributions definitely went beyond mere numbers.