Posted on September 22, 2013 at 7:25 PM
The Baltimore Ravens had scored three points in 27 minutes and trailed the unbeaten Houston Texans. Ray Rice was unavailable, the offense was struggling and the usually boisterous crowd was eerily quiet.
The defending Super Bowl champs were in dire need of a game-changing play, and Daryl Smith was there to provide it.
Smith stepped in front of tight end Owen Daniels, intercepted Matt Schaub's pass and took it 37 yards for a touchdown to propel the Ravens to a 30-9 victory Sunday.
Less than two minutes after Smith's pivotal TD, Tandon Doss scored on an 82-yard punt return. And just like that, the Ravens (2-1) were on their way to a lopsided victory against one of the AFC's top teams.
"Two huge plays by the defense and the special teams," coach John Harbaugh said.
The Ravens (2-1) won despite playing without Rice for the first time since 2008. Watching from the sideline with a strained left hip flexor, the three-time Pro Bowl running back was replaced by Bernard Pierce, who ran for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Baltimore got only four first downs and 65 yards of offense in the first half, yet went to the locker room with a 17-9 lead.
"A guy like Daryl makes a huge play and turns the game entirely around," Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith said.
Houston (2-1) led 6-3 before the interception return with 2:39 left in the first half. After a three-and-out by the Texans, Doss eluded several tacklers during his first career punt return for a touchdown.