Johnathan Joseph looked plenty fast to the Baltimore Ravens. Agile too.
The Houston Texans cornerback with a bum groin adjusted on the fly to pluck another J.J. Watt tipped pass out of the air — and then went flying down the sideline. He spent the last 20 yards almost coasting into the end zone, ball raised one-armed above his head. That's how little of a chance any Raven had of catching him.
Joseph is a gamer and there was little doubt he'd play in this showdown for AFC supremacy. Let everyone else worry about how Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson made him look on Sunday Night Football.
Phillips just walks around the building in his flip flops, with the no-worries attitude to match, makes a few tweaks . . . and viola, the dominance is back.
This No. 1 cornerback just shows up for the next challenge, week after high-pressure week.
And he delivers, 100 percent or not. Joseph's 52-yard pick-6 pushes the Texans out to a 16-3 lead, puts the Ravens on their heels for the rest of the afternoon. Houston will go on to score 29 unanswered points in the first half, taking a 29-3 lead into the break.
There's defense and then there's explosive defense. These Bulls on Parade of Wade Phillips are the latter.
How far away those 42 points surrendered to the Green Bay Packers suddenly seem. Phillips just walks around the building in his flip flops, with the no-worries attitude to match, makes a few tweaks . . . and viola, the dominance is back.
The Ravens finish the first half with 82 yards of total offense and four first downs. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco goes 7 of 20 for 52 yards and two interceptions. Flacco finished the half with a 4.2 quarterback rating. Yes, 4.2. That's no mistake.
Flacco finds out that standing 6-foot-6 does not make one immune to the Bulls' tip game. Watt's deflection will get the most attention as usual, but there is free safety Glover Quin reaching up to tip two passes and intercepting another. There is rookie Whitney Mercilus adding a tipped pass to his first career sack. There's linebacker Connor Barwin sticking out his arm and deflecting another Flacco attempt.
The Texans defensive players like to talk about the tips being contagious. Opposing offenses would call the whole phenomenon a sanity-threatening contagion.
A Little Help From Ex Friends
Ex-Texan Jacoby Jones — who was booed every time he took the field for a kick return — helped set up Houston's first score.
Joe Flacco finished the first half with a 4.2 quarterback rating. Yes, 4.2.
When Jones timidly backed away from a punt and let it bounce, the Ravens found themselves buried in the shadow of their own goal line. Two plays later, Barwin burst in untouched and absolutely leveled Flacco in the end zone for a safety.
So much for Barwin — the free agent to be — being sackless on the Bayou.
The Texans offense than drove 67 yards for a touchdown following the safety free kick. Quarterback Matt Schaub hit a wide open Kevin Walter for a 25-yard touchdown pass to finish it — after having completely overthrown Walter when he was even more wide open earlier in the drive.
From 3-0 Ravens to 9-3 Texans in a flash.
And soon it would be 16-3. With Flacco joining the growing list of quarterbacks suffering from Post Traumatic Watt Syndrome.
Watt now has nine pass deflections in seven games (most for a defensive lineman ever since passes defensed became an official stat in the 1990s). Four of those deflections have led to Texans interceptions.