After a deflating loss against the Steelers in Week 14, the Baltimore Ravens responded with a dominant victory on the road against the Cleveland Browns, winning 27-10.
Last year, the Ravens laid an egg after a heartbreaking loss in Pittsburgh. Today, the Ravens avoided a let down, and did what they had to do to stay in the playoff chase.
When the Browns and Ravens faced off for the first time this season, in Week 2, the Ravens defense forced turnover after turnover, which led the Ravens to a win. In Week 15, it was the defense again which created turnovers, leading to a Ravens win. In Week 2, the Ravens forced five turnovers (four interceptions and one fumble recovery), and in Week 15, the Ravens forced four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumble recoveries).
Baltimore started on offense, and came out strong. The Ravens drove 62 yards on 13 plays, but stalled near the red zone. Baltimore was still able to take an early lead, as Justin Tucker nailed a chip shot 31 yard field goal.
While the Ravens offense started strong on the first drive, it fell apart for the remainder of the first quarter, going three and out on its next two drives.
The defense was even better to start the game. Dean Pees’ group forced a three and out on each of the Browns first two drives, including a net of -11 yards on the Browns second drive. On the Browns third drive, Eric Weddle made an interception, and the Ravens got the ball back deep in Browns territory.
Baltimore drove down inside the Browns five yard line, before engaging in a frustrating series of four plays. Baltimore was stopped four straight times, and came up with nothing.
The defensive stand flipped the momentum for a stretch. Isaiah Crowell rushed for 59 yards on the first Browns play on offense. The Browns continued down the field, and capped off a 96 yard drive with a touchdown. Cleveland took a 7-3 lead despite having negative passing yards at the time.
Baltimore grabbed the momentum right back however. The Ravens scored on each of their next two possessions. The first score game on a short Joe Flacco run up the middle, and the second a nice pass from Flacco to Ben Watson. The second touchdown was set up by a Cleveland fumble forced by a hit by C.J. Mosley. Cleveland would kick a field goal right before halftime, but the Ravens went into the half up 17-10.
A dominant third quarter for the Ravens wasn’t enough last week for the Ravens, but a dominant third quarter sealed a win today. The Ravens forced three and outs on each of the Browns first two possessions, and on the first play of the Browns third possession, Za’Darius Smith forced a DeShone Kizer fumble in the end zone, and Brandon Williams recovered the ball for a Ravens touchdown. It was the Ravens’ star defensive tackle’s first career touchdown.
Baltimore would kick a field goal later in the third quarter, while Brandon Carr came up with an interception in the end zone, ending a solid drive for the Browns.
Baltimore was able to get a few more stops on defense, while running out to clock on offense, and cruised to a 27-10 win.
Sam Koch was an underrated star in this game, pinning the Browns inside the five yard line three times. Chris Moore downed all three of those punts.
Flacco had one of his best games of the season, completing 26 of 42 passes for 288 yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Mike Wallace and Ben Watson were really the only productive pass catches despite Flacco’s solid game. Wallace had 89 yards on six catches, while Watson had 74 yards and a touchdown on four catches.
Alex Collins had a decent game after last week’s great performance. Collins rushed for 70 yards on 13 carries, while picking up 33 yards receiving on five catches.
On defense, Matt Judon was excellent, finished the game with six total tackles, including three for loss, as well as a sack. Judon also had three quarterback hits. Mosley responded with a great game after struggling last week. Mosley had three passes defended and was solid in coverage after getting burnt by the Steelers tight ends. Eric Weddle had his sixth interception of the season.
The Ravens had 376 total yards in the game compared to Cleveland’s 266. Baltimore also possessed the ball for 36:48 compared to the Browns 23:12.
The Ravens improved to 8-6, keeping pace in the hunt for a playoff spot. Baltimore will get a slightly short week, facing the Indianapolis Colts at home on Saturday in Week 16.