Only one opposing wide receiver had reached the 100-yard mark this season against the Ravens. That changed Monday night.
DeAndre Hopkins caught seven passes for 125 yards in the Houston Texans' 23-16 loss at M&T Bank Stadium. It was just short of the 126 yards on eight balls the Green Bay Packers' Davante Adams collected Nov. 19, and Hopkins' play drew respect from some members of the Ravens defense.
"The kid is real," rush linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "That kid can play."
The 6-foot-1, 214-pound Hopkins had entered the weekend leading the NFL in touchdown catches (nine) and receptions leading to first downs (47) and ranking fourth in receiving yards (879). He amassed his fourth 100-yard game of the season – including a 224-yard display against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 29 – but failed to catch a touchdown for only the fourth time.
Cornerback Jimmy Smith half-joked that Hopkins' hands are double the size of his own. But he said the wide receiver uses his physical style to his advantage, drawing a pass-interference penalty each on Smith and cornerback Brandon Carr and a defensive holding call on Carr.
"It's because of his game, because he's a physical receiver," said Smith, who made a beeline after the game to hug and talk to Hopkins. "He likes to push and pull, and if you push back, some refs call it and some don't. Tonight, we got flagged on everything. One of them was an obvious P.I. on me. The other one I thought could've gone both ways."
For his part, Hopkins downplayed his individual performance in light of the team's loss and slide to 4-7.
"I don't celebrate self-achievements if the team achievement isn't where it needs to be," he said. "Obviously, my team isn't where it needs to be or where we want it to be. There's no celebrating here."