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Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens game recap, notes, and winners/losers

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Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens brought out its fantastic color rush jerseys on Thursday night, and the team would go on to play its best game of the year with the whole country watching.

Start of Game

Cleveland Browns kicker Cody Parkey booted the opening kickoff to Devin Hester Sr., and the Ravens first primetime game of the year was underway.

The Ravens offensive line however, did not get off to a great start, as both DT Danny Shelton and LB Jamie Collins roamed in the Ravens backfield. A deep throw to Kamar Aiken on third-and-five that fell incomplete brought on Sam Koch to punt the ball off to the Browns.

Cleveland didn’t last long either on its first possession, gaining just one first down before a Lardarius Webb sack ended the Browns drive. Similarly to the Browns, the Ravens were easily able to work its way into the Browns backfield, highlighted by Webb’s sack.

The two teams exchanged for most of first quarter, however with four minutes remaining in the quarter, the Ravens moved the ball well down the field. Keyed by big runs from Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon, the Ravens threatened to put up the first points of the game. However, on first-and-ten from the Browns 34, Flacco lobbed a pass toward Steve Smith Sr., Browns corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun forced Smith into a bad position. The ball did not seem to be catchable for the Ravens top wide receiver, and Smith would give up on the route. As a result, Boddy-Calhoun picked off the Flacco pass at the one yard line with a spectacular diving catch.

The sole positive from this drive is the success of the Ravens offensive line. To this point, the Ravens had been struggling to have its way with the Browns front seven, and led by Ronnie Stanley, the offense started to roll, despite coming out with nothing here.

Start of Second Quarter

The Ravens forced a three-and-out for the Browns following the pick, highlighted by a fantastic play by Tavon Young to knock the ball away from Corey Coleman. Young was largely impressive on Sunday against the Steelers, and he continues to play impressive defense tonight. He has turned into a solid corner, and has been just what the Ravens have needed in the absence of Shareece Wright. It seems the Ravens hit a home run with their fourth round pick so far.

Steve Smith and Kenneth Dixon took advantage of the solid field position and helped the Ravens move inside the Browns 10 yard line before the drive stalled. Steve Smith was wide open on a crossing route around the five yard line, but Flacco did not see him, and lobbed the ball out the back of the end zone. The ever reliable Justin Tucker came on to attempt to field goal, and drilled it, scoring the first points of the game and giving the Ravens the lead.

3-0 Ravens

The Ravens were not able to hold its lead for long, as Cleveland would take the ensuing kickoff, and undergo a seven play, 75 yard drive. A key pass interference call on Tavon Young keyed the Browns drive. From the Baltimore 25 yard line, Browns third string tight end Seth DeValve burned Eric Weddle down the field, and Cody Kessler found him for the score.

7-3 Browns

The Ravens would get a chance to run the two minute drill after the teams exchanged punts. Multiple third down conversions moved the Ravens down the field, but poor clock management in the final second left hurt the team. With less than 25 seconds remaining, Flacco dumped a pass of to Dennis Pitta, who had no chance of getting out of bounds. Flacco was forced to spike the ball, and give Tucker a chance to make it a one point game. Tucker drilled a 40 yard field goal to close the deficit.

7-6 Browns

End of First Half

First Half Notes

Through the first half, the Ravens have shown us nothing new. The offense continues to sputter, despite facing one of the worst defense’s in the NFL. The defense has shown up to play, allowing just 107 yards in the first half, including just 23 rushing yards. It seems the Ravens enjoy playing in close, low scoring games, as the Ravens are clearly the more talented team here. The coaching staff needs to figure out how to breath life into this offense, and it has to be in the second half against this Brown’s defense. If the Ravens can’t figure it out tonight, then the team will likely have no chance of keeping up with Dallas next week.

First Half Winners

  • Kenneth Dixon - Dixon has had more touches than Terrance West in the first half, and those touches were a strong mix of both rushing and receiving. Dixon has looked explosive catching screen passes and turning a few into long gains.
  • Ronnie Stanley - Stanley really has been the only offensive lineman who has played well in the first half. The rookie opened up holes for Dixon and West. He has also done fairly well with Jamie Collins, which is by far the hardest matchup any Ravens lineman will face.

First Half Losers

  • Eric Weddle - Weddle had two blown coverage’s in the first half, forgetting about Isaiah Crowell on a third down, and leaving Seth DeValve wide open for a touchdown.
  • Timmy Jernigan - Jernigan was called for offsides twice in the first half. Either the Browns have found a way to draw him offsides, or he just doesn’t have patience and discipline in this game for some reason. Neither of the calls have largely hurt the team, but no matter what, he will have to make an adjustment or else risk actually hurting the team.
  • Joe Flacco - Flacco missed made a few bad reads, and made a few bad throws, notably his interception. Also, his poor clock management with under a minute left in the half cost the Ravens a chance at a touchdown, and forced the offense to settle for a field goal.

Start of Second Half

The defense got off to a hot start, as tackle for loss from Tavon Young highlighted an opening drive three-and-out for the defense.

The offense took advantage of strong field position on their ensuing drive, as Flacco found Mike Wallace, Terrance West, and Steve Smith Sr. for solid gains down the field. Mike Wallace provided another highlight real play as he broke tackle, and used his speed to pick up more yards after the catch on his way to a 20 yard gain. On third-and-goal, Flacco found Darren Waller in the back of the end zone for the tight end’s first career score, giving the Ravens the lead back.

13-7 Ravens

However, rookie guard Alex Lewis suffered an ankle injury on the play that looked fairly serious. Danny Shelton was shoved to the ground, and fell right on Lewis’s ankle. His ankle gruesomely rolled, and as a result, was carted off the field with an air cast. He is listed as doubtful to return to the game. Update: Lewis would eventually be ruled “out”, but x-rays did come back negative.

On the ensuing Browns drive, Terrell Suggs would make a fantastic play causing a turnover. Suggs beat Joe Thomas around the edge, and got to new quarterback Josh McCown. Suggs knocked McCown’s arm as he was throwing, and forced a wobbly throw that fell right into the arms of Jerraud Powers for the interception!

But the Ravens failed to take advantage. A 23 yard pass to Mike Wallace moved the Ravens into the red zone. The Ravens threw away another opportunity to score as Flacco would throw his second interception of the game. It seemed as if Flacco was looking for Kenneth Dixon in the back of the end zone, but Joe Haden read Flacco’s eyes perfectly, and came up with the interception.

The offense quickly made up for it, as a bad Cleveland punt set the Ravens up in the Browns half. A 25 yard catch and run for Breshad Perriman moved the Ravens into the red zone, and a pass over the middle to Steve Smith gave Flacco his second touchdown pass of the day. The Ravens would elect to go for two, and Flacco found Kyle Juszyzck for the conversion. The Steve Smith countdown to 100 catches is now at three.

21-7 Ravens

Jeremy Zuttah was injured on the play, John Urschel took over at center. Zuttah would fortunately return to game on the Ravens next offensive possession.

Start of Fourth Quarter

The defense continued their solid play in this game on the ensuing Cleveland drive. To this point, the Ravens have held the Browns to just 136 total net yards, a very impressive stat. Following a Timmy Jernigan sack that lost the Browns 12 yards, McCown launched a pass toward the end zone, looking to find Terrelle Pryor.

However, McCown overthrew the speedy receiver, and instead, found his pass fall into the hands of Eric Weddle in the end zone, who clearly redeemed himself for his mistakes in the first half. Weddle broke two tackles and brought the ball back to the Ravens’ 33 yard line before a block in the back call on C.J. Mosley brought back the great run.

The offense took advantage of the interception in impressive fashion, in the form of a 12 play, 90 yard drive, eating almost eight minutes off the clock. Kenneth Dixon continues to have a stellar game, as he and Terrance West used bruising, physical runs to help carry the offense down the field. Once at the Cleveland 27, a moment all Ravens fans have waited for so long to see finally came true. Flacco lofted a deep ball toward the end zone, and embattled 2015 first round pick Breshad Perriman made a spectacular leaping grab to haul in the first touchdown of his young career. Hopefully this score will be the first of many for the talented receiver. The Raven seems to be pulling away, hopefully giving us a game at long last that we won’t need to bite our nails over.

28-7 Ravens 6:21 remaining in the game

Another big play from Terrell Suggs came quickly for this Ravens defense. Suggs came quickly off the edge, similarly to his influence of a Josh McCown pass that turned into an interception. This time, Suggs forced a McCown fumble, that was quickly fallen on by Matt Judon, giving the Ravens the ball at the Cleveland 30.

A stellar 17 yard from Kenneth Dixon was called back on the ensuing Ravens drive following a holding call on Vlad Ducasse. The offense wasn’t able to recover, but a perfect punt from Sam Koch started the Browns at their own half inch line, after Darren Waller downed the ball.

After almost forcing a safety, the Michael Pierce and Brent Urban respectively blocked passes on consecutive plays. The defense forced a Cleveland punt with barely any room to do so.

The Ravens put Ryan Mallett in the game for mop up duties near the two minute warning. Mallett would run out the clock, as the Ravens close the game out for the win.

Final Score: 28-7 Ravens

Second Half Notes

This was exponentially better than the first half. The offense showed up to play, and seemingly moved the ball at will in the fourth quarter. The defense had one of its best games of the year, most notably, the series with the near safety followed by two straight blocked passes. Yes, it’s the Browns, but this defense is good enough to carry the Ravens to the playoffs, despite the inconsistent offense.

Second Half Winners

  • Breshad Perriman - Perriman only had three catches in this game, but he finally has his first career touchdown, and it was one spectacular catch. Congrats to the virtual rookie after what has been an injury laden start to his career.
  • Eric Weddle - Weddle largely redeemed himself from a poor first half with an interception in the second half. Also, his overall coverage was significantly better
  • Terrell Suggs - Suggs was undoubtedly the best player on the field in this game, forcing two turnovers. The stars are supposed to step up when the lights are shining and that’s exactly what Suggs did.
  • Kenneth Dixon - Dixon continued to build on his strong first half with 38 yards on just six carries, and 42 yards on five catches. While Terrance West still received the majority of the carries, 21, we may be beginning to witness the changing of the guard from West to Dixon that many expected would eventually occur.
  • Michael Pierce - Pierce had a tackle for loss in the first half, and blocked a Josh McCown pass in the end zone. On top of that NFL Network showed a clip of him squatting 725 pounds during the broadcast. The Ravens seem to have done it again with an un-drafted rookie.

Second Half Losers

  • Offensive line depth - An injury to Alex Lewis compounded with Marshall Yanda’s injury really tested the depth of the offensive line. While it didn’t seem to matter tonight, this could prove to be a long term issue. The Ravens will have to face stronger fronts than the one Cleveland possesses, so they will eventually get their test.
  • Yeah, thats kinda it, the team played so much better in the second half that I would really have to nit pick to find a clear loser.

Solid win for the Ravens tonight as they move to 5-4 on the year. The team that showed up in the second half is the one that we all know the Ravens can be. The team will get a long week to rest before making a trip to Dallas to face a white-hot Cowboys team. Let’s see how far this momentum can carry the Ravens.