In Week 12, the Baltimore Ravens returned to Charm City to take on the Cleveland Browns in an AFC North showdown. The Ravens improved to 8-3 and stayed atop the division and overall conference standings with an ugly 16-10 victory thanks in large part to some of their less-heralded players on both sides of the ball.
This article highlights the players whose performances flew under the radar but were still clutch. The unsung heroes:
Interior defensive line
The biggest heroes of the game for the Ravens in terms of performance and sheer size were the interior of their defensive line. Against the top-ranked rushing attack in the league heading into the contest, who had their elite offensive line at full strength to start the game, the Ravens were without their best player in the defensive trenches. Veteran defensive end Calais Campbell was inactive with a concussion and but that didn’t stop the rest of the unit from stepping up in a major way.
The collective of Brandon Williams, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, and Justin Ellis banded together to hold Browns and their vaunted running back duo, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, to just 40 net yards on the ground. They combined for five total tackles including two for a loss and were led by Madubuike. The second-year pro led the bunch with three total tackles including two solos and batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage as well.
OLB Justin Houston
The Ravens brought a lot of pressure off the edge and while Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh made the most splash plays, the 11-year veteran made his presence felt just as often and ferociously throughout the game. Houston had a couple near sacks, three pressures per PFF, a quarterback hit, and two solo tackles.
RB Devonta Freeman
The veteran running back didn’t dazzle or force a bunch of missed tackles—just one according to PFF—but he helped the Ravens plow their way to victory with his key contributions on the ground. He tied his season-high in carries with 16, finished second on the team in rushing with 52 yards, caught his lone target for eight yards, and picked up a first down on four of his 17 total touches. Freeman only averaged 3.4 yards per carry but his ability to churn out tough yards the hard way was crucial nonetheless.
S Chuck Clark
The Ravens’ perennial unsung hero makes his return to the list after a rough midseason stretch for the secondary as a whole. He wasn’t quite lights out in this game but he did make some impressive and key plays against both the run and pass. One of his best plays of the night came on a play in the fourth quarter where he didn’t get credited with a solo tackle for loss but played a pivotal role stopping Hunt three yards behind the line of scrimmage. He came down in the box and not only set a strong edge but took out a pair of blockers in the process as Patrick Queen came over the top to help him make the stop.
Clark finished with four total tackles and a pair of pass deflections but one of them should’ve been an interception and was one of the worst drops by a Raven in recent memory.
Chuck Clark? He'd love to have this one back! pic.twitter.com/03t2cnrvoH— Tony Lombardi (@RSRLombardi) November 29, 2021
TE Eric Tomlinson
The Ravens’ offense racked up nearly 150 yards on the ground with arguably the league’s best blocking tight end observing from the sidelines. They dialed back Nick Boyle’s snaps on offense to just 10 after he played 32 in his season debut last week. The main benefactor of that reduction of offensive snaps was fellow veteran blocking specialist Tomlinson who nearly out-snapped Boyle 3-1 with 27 snaps as helped the offense grind their way to their fifth-highest rushing total of the season with 148 yards. He also played well and stood out on special teams where he made a solo tackle on punt coverage in the fourth quarter.
WR Devin Duvernay
The second year receiver almost always picks up positive yards whenever he gets the ball in his hands on offense or special teams. Duvernay returned three punts for 36 yards including two of over 10 yards, the longest of which was 22 yards and set up the Ravens second scoring, longest lasting and best looking drive of the entire game. On offense he picked up 13 yards and first down on a jet sweep handoff and hauled in one of his two targets for two yards with the other resulting in a incompletion deep down the field.