The Cleveland Browns finally found their offense in a convincing 40-25 road victory against division rival Baltimore Ravens. There was plenty of good, some bad and also some in-between. Regardless of the outcome of the Pittsburgh Steelers contest against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, the Browns now own first-place in the division. Why? Because they had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and a 150-yard receiver.
Running back Nick Chubb - Every Browns’ fan knows that Chubb can be a game-changer and in Sunday’s beatdown of the Ravens, he proved to be one of many bright spots. Was anyone in their seat when he reeled off that 88-yard touchdown run? Both left guard Joel Bitonio and center J.C. Tretter had pulled to lead the blocking while tight end Demetrius Harris and right guard Eric Kush had formed a seal. When Chubb burst through the hole, it appeared that the safety had an angle, but once he hit stride at the 30 yard line, he accelerated into a completely different gear. His third quarter 14-yard touchdown was a cutback run in which he broke three tackles. 20 carries for 165 yards, three TDs and an 8.3 average is a fine day.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry - While Landry failed to score a touchdown, he almost scored a pair but stumbled on one pass play and extended the wrong hand towards the pilon on another. Landry was instrumental in so many passing plays it is hard to think that the Browns could have gotten as far down the field without his contributions. His game totals were 167 yards on eight catches with a remarkable 20.9 per catch average, but those eight balls were at crucial times and for large chunks of yardage. His 65-yard catch and run could have been a touchdown but he turfed his toe and could not stop the tumble. One of the game’s biggest momentum changes occurred with 1:32 to go in the third quarter with Landry taking the shuffle pass from Baker Mayfield and brought it down to the two yard line.
Defensive tackle Larry Ojunjobi and defensive end Olivier Vernon - There were so many good plays by the defensive line, but none so dominate than Ojunjobi and Vernon. Each had a sack, but Vernon’s early in the game set the tone for the defense to be able to put pressure on the Ravens fabled passing attack.
Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones - Odell who? Antonio who? David who? Cleveland Browns’ fans - meet the newest threat in the passing game. The Ravens contest was the coming-out party for this backup tight end as he shined with 82 yards despite catching only three passes all game. On the Browns second possession, he scored a critical touchdown after delaying his route and then doing a drag across the middle. Probably one of the game’s biggest plays occurred with the Browns first possession in the third quarter in which Seals-Jones was hit for a 59-yard gain that set up Chubb’s touchdown on the very next play.
Defense! Defense! Defense! - All game, the defense had great plays. The pass rush was consistent while the pass defense was outstanding. Four sacks, six tackles for loss, two interceptions are the statistics, but the pressure on Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was the story. DC Steve Wilks is a fine defensive mind and knows when to send an extra rusher and when to hold back and instead dot the defensive backfield with more bodies.
Offensive Linemen Joel Bitinio and J.C. Tretter - Both of these men opened holes for Chubb and running back Dontrell Hilliard and basically wore down the Ravens defensive front in the second half. Three rushing touchdowns went through the hole that these two opened. Although Mayfield had some pressure at times on passing downs, not a single Ravens defensive tackle was able to get into the backfield all game.
Special Teams Kick coverage- The Ravens were never able to generate any yardage off of any kickoff or punt with either KhaDarel Hodge, Tavierre Thomas, Willie Harvey or Demetrius Harris making the tackle.
Middle linebacker Joe Schobert - Schobert is quietly having another Pro Bowl year. He had 17 total tackles against Baltimore with a sack, two tackles for loss and forced a fumble. He reads the run extremely well. One would assume that his game would have suffered with the temporary loss of his partner Christian Kirksey, but instead he has elevated his awareness on the field and is simply a “field roamer.”
Rushing Defense - The Ravens on several drives popped off numerous seven and eight yard clips especially on first down. Before kickoff, they were the league’s number one rushing team. Before Ravens running back Mark Ingram’s third quarter fumble, the Ravens ripped off runs of nine, nine, eight, and four yards mainly into the center or just off left guard. All game long the Browns did not have an answer for this. The drive in which Ingram fumbled could have changed the outcome of the game with how much yardage the Ravens were getting on the ground.
Cornerback T.J. Carrie - Carrie was often out of position on several passing downs that could have cost the Browns dearly. With the Browns leading 7-0 in the opening stanza, Miles Boykins had found an opening in the center of the end zone between Carrie and Demarious Randall. Carrie had been guarding the left corner of the end zone where no receiver was. The 27-yard completion - then reversed - pass to Chris Moore was Carrie’s zone who was 15-yards away from the play. The fourth quarter eight-yard touchdown to tight end Mark Andrews brought the score close to 24-18. Schobert guarded the tight end close to the line and then let him go deep. Carrie remained in the short zone and never took over the route as Andrews scored easily.
Running game First half - Whatever the coaches adjusted at intermission worked because the first half was a bust with the rushing attack. A whooping 30 yards on the ground was gained in the first half with 10 gained on one play. A total of three running plays resulted in negative yardage. After halftime, the Browns ended the game with 193 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns, but the first half was a joke.
Penalties Again - This week, an article was written here on DBN by the talented Rufio on how to fix the Browns offense doldrums. One of his “fixes” was to stop the stupid penalties. That did not happen against the Ravens with illegal shifts, personal fouls and numerous false starts. Cleveland is the league’s most penalized club and this week just added to their ranking.
Milk Bones - Not steak, but tasty
Quarterback Baker Mayfield - The biggest change to Mayfield’s game this week was his ability to remain in the pocket and go through his progressions, be patient and not panic. Time and time again, this worked. The interception he threw in the second quarter was a terrible pass and killed a drive that ended in Ravens territory. The end result was 342 passing yards and he was only sacked once. His offensive line for most of the game was keeping defenders to the outskirts of the pocket and this game Mayfield did not help them by running out to meet them.
Defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence - One of the blessings with this club is that they are able to use six defensive linemen all game. Lawrence has proven his worth and each game has been given more snaps. He may not have gotten a sack, but was the one pushing Ravens guard Bradley Bozeman backwards the plays he was in there. On his interception, he tipped the ball and then found the floating ball and hauled it in like the defensive back he dreams he could have been.
Offensive tackle Greg Robinson - One of the successes in the second half in the rushing attack was because of Robinson’s blocking and opening holes. Chubb’s 24-yards cutback scamper in the third quarter was because Robinson had pushed defensive end Chris Wormley into the center of the field to which Bitonio took him. Next, Robinson went to the second level and eliminated Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor who had position on an angle. On the Browns next possession, it was the side of Robinson, Bitonio and backup tackle Justin McCray who provided the opening for Chubb’s two-yard touchdown. One of the unsung plays of the game was on Chubb’s 88-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter which basically sealed the game. Robinson had come from his left tackle spot and hit linebacker Kenny Young on the second level. Young had been in perfect position to make the tackle before Robinson engaged.
Kicker Austin Seibert - After one of the preseason games, Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens complained that he just needed someone to kick the ball between the yellow poles. Has Seibert missed a kick this year? Any kick?