Had one not known the final score of the Baltimore Ravens 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns yesterday, they might have thought it would have been more like 45-10. Statistically, the Ravens dominated in such an overwhelming fashion that the 14 point win was nowhere near as close as the final margin. The biggest spread in the game was 24-3 until the Browns scored their only TD of the day with four minutes remaining in the game.
The weather was cool and rainy all game with a wind coming off Lake Erie, and perhaps that breeze affected the score as much as the Browns did. Ravens placekicker Billy Cundiff had his worst game of the season, missing two attempts and barely making his first extra point, clanking it off the upright but through nonetheless. Call it over-compensating or even not compensating due to the weather, he still contributed to keeping the Browns in the game until late in the third quarter.
The Ravens did everything right in the first half, except put the game away by halftime. Baltimore ran all over the Browns porous run defense for 158 yards in the first thirty minutes and 260 yards total in the first half while holding Cleveland to under 100 yards of total offense. The Ravens had an overwhelming advantage in time of possession, controlling the ball for almost 19 of the 30 minutes.
Five times the Ravens moved the ball deep into Browns territory, to within the 26-yard or closer, and they only got two scores for ten points out of it. The two missed field goals were from 34 and 41 yards, only the second and third misses for Cundiff inside the 50-yard line on the season. A fourth and one attempt was stuffed on the Ravens first drive at the Browns 26-yard line and their last points of the half which came on a 21-yard Cundiff FG, was a result of the team having a first-and-goal from the Browns 3-yard line and being unable to punch it in for the TD.
The second half was almost as dominant, although the Ravens only outscored the Browns 14-10 for the final thirty minutes. Baltimore continued to own the time-of-possession clock, holding the ball for 18 of the 30 minutes, but only managing one offensive score, with the other one coming on a sweet Lardarius Webb 68-yard TD return.
Overall, the Ravens ran 23 more plays, had almost twice as many yards and held the ball for 15 more minutes than the Browns but only won by two scores. While it never seemed like the Ravens were truly going to lose the game, it was still only one score away from being a "game" as late as the final whistle.
Statistics like this my be misleading on the scoreboard and the knock on the Ravens in 2011 has been that they play down to their level of competition. Although winning on the road in the NFL is never an easy thing, one would prefer to see more conversions in scoring chances than what we saw yesterday that would reflect the true dominating performance that actually happened out on the playing field.