In Week 14, Baltimore dropped their second consecutive divisional game by less than a field goal margin. The already injury ravaged Ravens suffered in-game injuries to their top players on each side of the ball during their 24-22 loss in Cleveland.
After franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson was knocked out of the match because of an ankle injury, Tyler Huntley played the final 64 snaps of the game. The backup acquitted himself well, finishing the contest with a 99.7 passer rating, plus 45 rushing yards.
All five starting lineman played a full complement of offensive snaps and Trystan Colon was inserted as a sixth lineman for two snaps. The interior blocking trio of Kevin Zeitler, Bradley Bozeman and Ben Powers lined-up on all 74 plays and created some space in the run game. Tackles Alejandro Villanueva and Tyre Phillips, however, were abused by the Browns edge rushers. Their struggles in pass protection contributed to an abysmal 8-percent third down conversion rate and a pair of Huntley fumbles.
Baltimore’s receiving corps was a bright spot in Week 14. On 70 snaps (95%) and eight targets, Marquise Brown managed five receptions for 41 yards. Mark Andrews caught all 11 passes thrown his way for 115 yards and a score on 65 plays (88%). Rashod Bateman broke out with several highlight reel grabs among his seven catches for 103 yards and 48 snaps (65%).
Devin Duvernay received three touches during 49 snaps (66%). Sammy Watkins was limited to 23 snaps (31%) due to a knee ailment. James Proche was not targeted despite a 21 snap (28%) opportunity and reserve tight end Josh Oliver made a reception on nine snaps.
With Nick Boyle and Patrick Ricard nursing injuries, Eric Tomlinson was utilized on 14 plays (19%). Devonta Freeman remained the lead back with 49 snaps (66%) and 18 touches for 72 scrimmage yards. On 20 snaps (27%), Latavius Murray punched his only carry in for a touchdown.
The Ravens defensive front was able to limit the Browns potent rushing attack to 3.4 yards per carry despite Calais Campbell’s departure after six snaps. Justin Madubuike led the charge with 50 snaps (77%), four tackles, one for a loss and multiple pass rushing pressures. Brandon Williams and Justin Ellis held their ground on 44 (68%) and 23 (35%) snaps, respectively. With a 40 play workload (62%), second-year defensive lineman Broderick Washington displayed his potential with three tackles and the defense’s lone quarterback hit.
Patrick Queen paced the linebackers with 55 snaps (85%). Yet Josh Bynes led the unit with six tackles during his 45 plays (69%). Chris Board and Kristian Welsh rotated-in for 11 and nine snaps respectively, and Malik Harrison was restricted to special teams duty.
Shouldering 60 snaps (92%), Tyus Bowser posted a pass defensed and several quarterback pressures. Odafe Oweh made an impact in run support with five tackles on 35 snaps (54%). Justin Houston managed a tackle for loss during 32 snaps (49%). And Jaylon Ferguson completed the outside linebacker committee with 13 uneventful snaps.
Captain Chuck Clark had a mixed game, faring better against the run than the pass while organizing the defense for all 65 defensive plays. Brandon Stephens logged 64 snaps and six solo tackles. Anthony Averett matched Stephens’ snap count and corralled an interception among two pass break-ups.
With Marlon Humphrey on injured reserved and Jimmy Smith excused for the birth of his child, Chris Westry served as the second cornerback. Westry played well, recording a pass deflection and six tackles on 52 snaps (80%). Slot corner Tavon Young was deployed for 20 snaps (31%), journeyman Kevon Seymour for 16 (25%) and dime safety Geno Stone for 11 (17%).
The Ravens head into the final four games of the regular season at 8-5 with a one-game lead in the AFC North. John Harbaugh’s team has been battered by injury throughout the season. But their near comeback against the talented and rested Browns proves their spirit is not broken.