The Baltimore Ravens defended their home turf and AFC North lead with a 16-10 victory in Week 12. While their offensive performance against the Browns was stained by four interceptions, their maligned defense rose to the occasion to stifle Cleveland.
Versus the Browns formidable offensive line, Baltimore’s defensive lineman won the trench battle without the services of Calais Campbell. Justin Madubuike showcased his potential to be a future leader of the unit with three stops, a tackle for loss and pass deflection while tasked with 51 snaps (85%). Brandon Williams returned from injury to provide a tackle for loss in 33 snaps (55%). Broderick Washington, Justin Ellis and practice squad elevation Isaiah Mack generally held their ground on 30, 22 and six snaps, respectively.
The linebackers deserve major credit for the divisional win. Tyus Bowser has an excellent outing while shouldering 57 snaps (95%), he recorded three quarterback hits, a sack and pass breakup. In 38 snaps (63%), Patrick Queen produced perhaps the finest game of his career with eight solo tackles including two behind the line of scrimmage. Odafe Oweh provided consistent pressure and managed a strip-sack during his 36 play opportunity (60%).
Veteran Justin Houston was also an effective pass rusher with several pressures and a quarterback hit among his 42 snaps (70%). Josh Bynes posted a tackle for loss on 32 snaps (52%) before being replaced by Kristian Welsh for the final ten plays. Chris Board earned 22 snaps and Jaylen Ferguson saw two. Malik Harrison was relegated to 19 special teams snaps in his return to action.
Defensive Coordinator Don Martinalde loaded the box to counter the Browns rushing attack, and the defensive backs stepped up to the challenge. Starters Chuck Clark, Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens lined up for all 60 defensive plays, combining for five pass breakups. Anthony Averett returned from a hamstring injury and supplied excellent coverage during a full complement of snaps. With Jimmy Smith and Chris Westry sidelined, Tavon Young played 22 nickel snaps and Geno Stone saw 17 dime snaps, both fared well in primetime.
Facing Cleveland’s talented defensive front, the Ravens offensive line pass blocked reasonably well. Patrick Mekari, Kevin Zeitler, Ben Powers and Alejandro Villanueva played all 81 offensive snaps. Trystan Colon replaced Bradley Bozeman for one snap at center after the starting pivot was shaken up on a play. Ben Cleveland was limited to four special teams plays after returning from a knee injury. Overall, the lineman fought admirably against an imposing opponent.
Marquise Brown resumed his role as top receiver with 61 snaps (75%), ten targets and eight catches for 51 yards. Rashod Bateman outsnapped Sammy Watkins and Devin Duvernay 36 to 35 apiece, catching all four of his targets for 31 yards. Watkins saw just one target while Duvernay had three offensive touches. James Proche and Tylan Wallace rotated in for five and three plays respectively while Miles Boykin remained inactive.
Fullback Patrick Ricard was utilized on 60 snaps (74%) and Mark Andrews led the tight end contingent with 55 snaps (68%). Andrews caught only four of ten targets but his receptions included a highlight 39-yard grab and the Ravens only touchdown. Eric Tomlinson was the primary blocking tight end, receiving 27 snaps to Nick Boyle’s 10. Josh Oliver was inactive in Week 12.
Baltimore’s running backs generated less that 2.7 yards per carry, but their rugged rushing helped the Ravens win time-of-possession by more than 14 minutes. Devonta Freeman provided 60 all-purpose yards on 17 touches and 40 snaps (46%). Latavius Murray had eight carries during 36 snaps (44%). And Ty’Son Williams was reincorporated into the offensive for two snaps.
Heading into December, winning ugly has become commonplace for the 2021 Ravens. Their peripherals are not indicative of a conference leading squad. Nonetheless, a team with a dynamic quarterback and ample receiving weapons, coupled with a disruptive defensive front and clutch kicker, has the ingredients to survive and advance through the AFC. Up next is another probable slugfest against the descending Pittsburgh Steelers.