Houston • The Houston Texans look like the new bullies in the AFC, while the Baltimore Ravens look like a mess without Ray Lewis.
Matt Schaub threw two touchdown passes, Arian Foster ran for two scores and the Texans dominated a showdown of the conference’s top two teams, routing the Ravens 43-13 on Sunday.
Johnathan Joseph returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown and the Texans (6-1) finally beat Baltimore, who’d won all six previous meetings and eliminated them from last year’s playoffs.
About the only positive sign for the Ravens (5-2) was the return of 2011 defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs, who saw his first action since undergoing surgery on his right Achilles tendon last May. Suggs sacked Schaub in the first quarter and finished with three tackles.
Otherwise, Baltimore’s defense seemed overmatched without Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb, who were placed on injured reserve this week. Safety Ed Reed, who acknowledged this week that he’s been playing with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, left in the fourth quarter with a chest injury.
The Ravens gave up their highest points total since a 44-20 loss to Indianapolis in 2007, and their offense didn’t look any better.
Flacco was off-target and under pressure most of the game, Ray Rice was held to 42 yards rushing and no Baltimore receiver had a reception longer than 15 yards. Baltimore came into the game with a league-high 34 offensive plays covering at least 20 yards.
Houston, meanwhile, returned to form a week after getting embarrassed by Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. Schaub completed 23 of 37 passes for 256 yards and the Texans set a franchise record for points in a game and finished with 420 yards.
The Ravens led 3-0, then started unraveling after Donnie Jones’ punt pinned them at their own 3-yard line late in the first quarter. Connor Barwin charged in from Flacco’s blind side and tackled him in the end zone for a safety and his first sack of the season.
The play seemed to ignite Houston’s offense and Schaub, who needed about three series to find the weak spots in Baltimore’s injury-ravaged defense. He found Johnson for a 12-yard gain, then connected with Kevin Walter for a 25-yard touchdown and a 9-3 lead.
The 6-foot-5 Watt really got Houston rolling when he swatted a Flacco pass, his ninth defensed pass of the season. Joseph caught it and sprinted to the end zone, showing no ill effects from the groin injury that forced him to miss practice time last week.
The Texans moved in big chunks on their next offensive series, as the Ravens’ defense steadily deteriorated. Tight end Garrett Graham made an acrobatic 20-yard catch, Foster weaved 14 yards to the Baltimore 1 and tight end Owen Daniels made a diving catch in the end zone for a 22-3 lead.
By then, the Ravens were losing their cool. Safety Christian Thompson took a swing at Houston’s Justin Forsett and was called for a personal foul, and Flacco threw incomplete on his next three throws.
Shayne Graham tacked on field goals of 33 and 29 yards to put Houston up 29-3, its largest halftime lead of the season.
Schaub completed 19 of 32 passes — 12 in a row in one stretch — in the first half. Flacco, meanwhile, went 7 for 20 and was sacked twice to go along with two interceptions.
Baltimore got help from a pass-interference call on Joseph early in the third quarter, and Flacco found Tanden Doss for a 15-yard touchdown.
Houston turned its next series over to its workhorse running back to seep time off the clock. Foster carried seven times for 18 yards on the 7 1/2-minute drive and plowed into the end zone with 2:56 left in the third quarter. He came into the game leading the NFL in carries (149).
Foster finished with 19 carries for 98 yards.