Phil Dawson for 2012 NFL MVP.
Today's game started off full of promise, as the Ravens scored a touchdown on their opening drive and another one a little bit later in the 1st quarter, both coming off of carries by Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce respectively. It seemed as if the game would be one of utter domination by the Ravens until the Browns started showing signs of life, hitting three FGs before the end of the first half to narrow the Ravens lead to 14-9 going into the locker room.
Throughout the first half we saw more of the same from the Ravens' poor defense as they allowed 76 first-half rushing yards by Trent Richardson and another 129 yards through the air. Early on, we saw a combination of both poor coverage and pressure. But the Ravens showed signs of a bend-but-don't-break defense as the only points scored by the Browns came off of FGs.
After heavy criticism for not running the ball enough against the Houston Texans, it was obvious that the Ravens were going to place an emphasis on their running game today. They certainly did not disappoint. Throughout the first half, the Ravens combined for 93 total rushing-yards scoring two touchdowns along the way.
The Ravens looked stale coming out of the locker-room, going three-and-out on their first drive to begin the second half. However, after an impressive diving interception and return by Cary Williams to start off the Browns' first drive of the second half, the Ravens found themselves in good position to put some more points on the board. Unfortunately, a Michael Oher penalty and a mediocre offensive effort resulted in the Ravens punting the ball away for a second consecutive time.
After forcing the Browns to punt, the Ravens looked to have great field-position but a holding call on LaQuan Williams backed the Ravens up to their own 29 yard-line. But yet another three-and-out stalled the Ravens offense, forcing them to punt the ball away once again. The Browns took advantage of the Baltimore Ravens inconsistent offense by cashing in yet another FG to trim the already small Ravens lead to 14-12.
After the field-goal by the Browns, the Baltimore Ravens got the ball back. Any guesses on what happened after that? Yup, yet another three-and-out forced the Ravens to punt the ball away once again. Due to two false starts, however, the Cleveland Browns found themselves in a tricky 1st-and-20 situation in which they could not capitalize.
After being a bit demoralized in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the Ravens looked to change their fortunes in the 4th quarter. They would have no such luck, being forced to punt the ball away again after a three-and-out. After allowing a FG which put the Browns ahead 15-14 it seemed as if all hope for a victory was slipping away.
But the Ravens, being the resilient bunch they are, retaliated by tossing a short touchdown pass to Torrey Smith and converting the 2-point attempt. The Browns then proceeded to go four-and-out on the very next drive, giving the ball to the Ravens inside of the "50". The Ravens were sure to take advantage of this by drilling a 43-yard field goal, locking the game up 25-15. The Browns, looking for points, desperately fired a deep pass which was then intercepted by Ed Reed, which put the final stamp on the game.
Overall it was a frustrating outing by the Ravens, the final score does not even come close to describing how tight the game actually was. It wasn't pretty; it was filled with the many highs and lows that Ravens fans have become accustomed to this season. But as the saying goes, "a win is a win", and I'll take a win over a loss any week. The Ravens will look to extend their win streak to two next week as they play the Oakland Raiders.
I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Sunday evening, and enjoy the remaining 8 hours of your weekend.