Each week and each opposing offense provides a unique challenge for the Baltimore Ravens. However, Sunday's matchup against the Houston Texans featured one of the tougher tasks the defense will face in 2020: slowing down Deshaun Watson.
The versatile quarterback, who Ravens defensive coordinator Don 'Wink" Martindale compared to Lebron James, mimics Lamar Jackson in his ability to make a spectacular play out of nothing. Yet in Week 2, Watson wasn't able to do much in what was a 33-16 win for the Ravens.
Throwing for 275 yards and one touchdown while rushing for just 17 yards, Baltimore kept Watson under wraps. Even with a few successful drives scattered, the Ravens seemed to always have an answer.
“He's a true competitor. He went out there and competed, play in and play out, made a lot of plays to give his team a chance to win," Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. "But we have a lot of guys who are true competitors, too, and we just kept coming, found a way to keep them at the end zone and hold them when they made big plays, and that really showed up big at the end of the game."
Campbell credited the defense not only for its mentality and effort but for its ability to constantly try and pressure Watson inside and out of the pocket. Noting that Martindale made a point to send the blitz often throughout the contest, Baltimore wanted to make the quarterback uncomfortable.
In the second half, they did just that. The physicality up front wore down Houston's offensive line, leading to more opportunities for the defense to make plays. Rather than getting discouraged early on, the unit stuck with the plan and believed that their work would pay off.
“We just kind of kept doing what we practice all week, every day," safety DeShon Elliott, who picked up his first career sack during the game, said. "Play Ravens football.”
Seeing Watson take plenty of hits on Sunday, Campbell admired Watson's determination. It takes a certain character to continue to get up and compete when things aren't going well -- something Watson displayed until the final whistle blew.
"I respect him so much because he kept getting up and kept making big plays and making guys miss," Campbell said. "But we finally started getting there and we finished the game.”
Through two weeks, the Ravens defense has shown that it is up for any challenge. After stifling a talented receiving core in Week 1 against the Browns, the unit contained one of the most talented quarterbacks in the game.
"We’ve got a bunch of guys that they call themselves dogs, I think, and I'd probably have to agree with them. These guys love to play. They can't wait to get back to work," head coach John Harbaugh said. "They know who's next, and they can't wait to go to work and just prepare, and they feel that week about every opponent."