CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 4: Punt returner Lardarius Webb #21 of the Baltimore Ravens returns a punt for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Ravens debated the Browns 24-10. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Baltimore Ravens 24-10 win over the Cleveland Browns was so dominating and complete that the game was not even anywhere as close as the score indicated. Had the Ravens converted the missed field goals or even scored touchdowns instead of settling for the field goal attempts, the Ravens might have put a 40-spot on the pathetic Browns.
To find five defensive plays in this game that would qualify as "top" defensive plays is tough, whereas in other Ravens victories, specific plays made the difference in the games. However, the Ravens victory was so dominating, the Browns never really threatened enough to warrant key plays to add to the victory. Here is what I came up with for the game's top five defensive plays:
1. The "fumble" that was not a fumble. Ravens CB Danny Gorrer, as well as most everyone else, thought he had caused a fumble that was recovered by Ed Reed. However, the only one whose opinion mattered was the referee, who overturned the call after viewing the replay, which still seemed to confirm the fumble. The Browns went three-and-out and punted and the Ravens drove down the field, although they missed the ensuing field goal, keeping the score at 7-0 Ravens.
2. Rookie CB Jimmy Smith picked off a Colt McCoy pass, timing his coverage and catching in in full stride. He directed traffic down to the goal line but seemed to turn the run inside at the last moment, when an outside route might have taken him into the end zone. The Ravens couldn't convert that turnover into a TD and settled for a 21-yard FG for a 10-0 lead just before the half.
3. Cleveland had the ball deep inside Ravens territory and had a third and goal from the 3-yard line. A Colt McCoy pass was incomplete, forcing the Browns to kick a short FG as the Ravens defense stiffened to keep the Browns out of the end zone until late in the game when the outcome was already decided. The Ravens took the following kickoff downfield for a short Ricky Williams TD run, highlighted by a Ray Rice 67-yard burst up the middle.
4. The Browns were pinned deep inside their own territory and the Ravens forced them to punt after not allowing a McCoy pass completion to get the first down yardage. The ensuing punt was returned 68 yards for a TD by Lardarius Webb, giving the Ravens an insurmountable 24-3 lead.
5. Not one single play, but four in all. Four times the Ravens kicked off to the Browns dangerous returner, Joshua Cribbs, and all four times they stopped him before he could break a long one that could have turned the tide of the game at any point. Cribbs averaged in the mid-20's per return but never got untracked and was not a factor in the game.