The Cleveland Browns suffered a disappointing 25-15 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, meaning they will head into the bye week with a 2-7 record and having been swept by the Ravens for the fifth consecutive season.
Fans were really excited heading into this game. You could have attributed that to several things, such as the presence of new owner Jimmy Haslam, the play of rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden and rookie running back Trent Richardson, the fact that Joe Haden would be available this time around, the season debut of Phil Taylor, the Ravens being banged up on defense, and the fact that Cleveland has won two straight home games. A win would have improved the fan support of this team tremendously heading into a bye. Instead, whether justified or not, there are going to be questions regarding the future of head coach Pat Shurmur.
Things got off to an awful start for the Browns in the first quarter. Cleveland's first two offensive possessions involved 3rd-and-1 situations. They failed to convert either one, resulting in three-and-outs. The Ravens moved the ball with ease, especially on the ground, against the Browns' defense and jumped out to an early 14-0 lead.
After that, something kicked in for the defense. The Ravens only had one first down on their next seven drives, leading well into the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Browns were consistently getting the ball into Ravens territory, but could not finish drives. They contentiously settled for field goals by Phil Dawson. Usually, you're not going to take the lead just with field goals. With how the defense was playing, though, Dawson was able to connect on five consecutive field goals from 32, 28, 29, 33, and 41 yards. The 41-yarder came with just under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter, giving Cleveland a 15-14 lead.
Sadly, the Ravens finally found some success moving the ball again. They had the assistance of a terrible roughing the passer call that the referees made on T.J. Ward. With just under five minutes to go, Joe Flacco found Torrey Smith for a catch-and-run touchdown. A two-point conversion made it a 22-15 Ravens lead.
Cleveland still had time to execute a drive, but they went three-and-out and decided to go for it on 4th-and-2 despite having two timeouts and being in their own territory. Weeden's fourth down pass gave his receiver no chance, and that was pretty much it. Justin Tucker added the sealing field goal for Baltimore.
What the review above doesn't indicate is that Weeden had a poor showing for the first time since losing to the Eagles in Week 1. I think it comes as a bit of a surprise, considering we've seen him make progress and look so confident in every game since then. There is reason to be upset with Weeden's performance, but anyone calling for his head in his rookie year needs to settle down.
Despite the loss, this is a Browns team that is going to continue fighting. They have a couple of favorable games coming up after the bye, and then two big games against the Steelers to close out the year. Weeden will rebound from this, and with Trent Richardson looking fresh and the defense showing some life for a long stretch today, it's only a matter of time before this team establishes some more consistency to win these types of games.