The Baltimore Ravens cruised past the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, winning 27-13 as Justin Houston had an evening to remember.
In a game dominated by the Ravens’ ground game, Baltimore running back Kenyan Drake scored two touchdowns, including 93 yards, and quarterback Lamar Jackson threw another and ran for 82 yards.
The Ravens’ defense exhausted Andy Dalton and the Saints’ passing offense, with Houston finishing with two and a half sacks and a key fourth-quarter interception as New Orleans was held to a season-high 243 yards.
Baltimore’s ever-improving defense, which added linebacker Roquan Smith, who was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bears last week and was making his debut, gave the Saints all the baskets, sacking Dalton four times and forcing six of his own. passing by
The star of the show was Houston, who despite doubts about his future in the offseason, has appeared resurgent this season.
The 33-year-old was a constant nuisance – Monday’s game was his third in a row with at least two sacks – and he admitted in the postseason that there were thoughts about not playing this year.
“Honestly, I was thinking about retirement,” Houston said after claiming his first interception since 2018.
“Me and my wife took a vacation and I turned off the phone. I prayed and prayed, and I literally heard God say, ‘Give me all and I will give you your desires.’ I said to my wife, ‘Listen, I’m going to be everything this season.’”
Houston, a four-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer, now has 110.5 sacks, but he has become much more than a major player, becoming a role model for his younger peers.
“It’s a blessing to be in the room with a guy like that,” sophomore linebacker Odafe Oweh said. “It was spectacular to see.
“He told me when he was working in Georgia this summer that he was really taken advantage of, this year and in terms of what he really wanted for himself. You see, of course. I don’t know what it is, but I’m trying to get everything he can get.’
The win improves Baltimore’s record to 6-3 this season and puts them atop the AFC North division over the Cincinnati Bengals.
After last week’s dramatic win over the Las Vegas Raiders, the Saints were hoping that their disappointing season so far could be upended.
But it wasn’t to be, despite cheering on from a packed Caesars Superdome.
Saints running back Alvin Kamara was held to just 30 yards on nine carries and 32 receptions after 158 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in last week’s 24-0 win over the Raiders.
Dalton connected with Juwan Johnson for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and rookie receiver Chris Olave had another impressive outing, but it was another evening of small mistakes and misses for New Orleans.
After the loss, the sixth of the year in what has been a modest season so far, Dalton said the entire team was defeated.
“You have to look at (the game) and see what areas you need to improve (and) what things we need to address for everybody,” Dalton said.
“Everybody had a hand in some way tonight. So we have to look at the changes that we need to improve. We need to improve quickly. We have a short week this week.”