Last year, the Browns and Ravens met in prime time for what may have been the game of the year in an offensive shootout. Their 2021 match-up was the complete opposite, almost as ugly as you can get. Both teams turned the ball over often, but at the end of the day, despite Lamar Jackson’s four interceptions, he made a few more clutch plays as Baltimore pulled off a 16-10 victory. The Browns are now 6-6 heading to their bye week, with a very grim look on their hopes of winning the AFC North. Let’s get to the full recap.
Cleveland got the opening kickoff, and with the Ravens trying to play the run hard, Baker Mayfield found success via the passing game. His first third down passing situation was a 36-yard completion to WR Jarvis Landry, and on the following play, he ran a playaction fake and targeted WR Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Peoples-Jones dropped the pass, though, and the two couldn’t connect on a third down fade route either. That brought on K Chase McLaughlin for a 46-yard field goal attempt, but the wind pulled it wide left and no good.
After the Ravens ran for one first down, DE Myles Garrett beat three defenders to sack QB Lamar Jackson for a loss of six yards. Jackson ran for four yards on second down, setting up a 3rd-and-12 situation. The defense rallied and came up with the third down stop to force a punt.
The injury bug crept up to begin the Browns’ second drive. Mayfield was limping a bit after evading a sack on first down, and then on third down, RT Jack Conklin went down with a knee injury after he had just returned from IR with an elbow injury. The drive got close to midfield before an illegal formation penalty dug Cleveland into a little bit of a hole that they couldn’t get out of, leading to a punt.
The Browns had an embarrassing sequence on their next drive. After forcing a 4th-and-2, the Ravens ran a fake punt and converted, but the officials ruled that the whistle hadn’t blown to begin the play yet. After that, the Ravens still lined up to go for it, but Cleveland had to call timeout because they had 12 men on the field. After the timeout, the Ravens still lined up to go for it...and were flagged for 12 men, leading to an automatic first down. A couple plays later, DT Malik McDowell hit Jackson after he stepped out of bounds, giving Baltimore a free 15 yards. It all set up a 52-yard field goal for Tucker, who hit it straight down the middle to give Baltimore a 3-0 lead with 0:24 remaining in the opening quarter.
Cleveland ran the ball with RB Kareem Hunt to close the first quarter and begin the second quarter, edging out a first down. After that, the passing game couldn’t find its bearing again, as Mayfield threw passes away on second and third downs to bring out the punt unit again. P Jamie Gillan punted it 52 yards, but the return man returned it 22 yards to set the Ravens’ next drive up at the 35 yard line.
Baltimore faced another 4th-and-1 situation in their own territory — the 44 yard line — and went for it. Jackson just barely got to the line to gain for a first down, and then Baltimore started to build a bit of a rhythm to get into field goal range. Baltimore kept chipping away, looking like they were going to bleed as much clock as possible en route to a touchdown. However, on 2nd-and-goal from the 1 yard line, Garrett stuffed the run for no gain. On 3rd-and-goal from the 1, Jackson ran a playaction and had the fullback open in the flat, but Garrett jumped and batted the pass down. Baltimore was going to go for it on fourth down, but OL Kevin Zeitler committed a false start, so Tucker came on to kick the 25-yard field goal and give the Ravens a 6-0 lead with 3:53 remaining in the half.
Cleveland hit their biggest play of the game to open the next drive, as Mayfield ran a playaction fake and hit TE Harrison Bryant for a 41-yard catch-and-run up the left sideline. Right after that, head coach Kevin Stefanski brought out the trick play of Landry throwing the ball, a play that has worked successfully 100% of the time over the past two seasons. This time, it led to a fumble, as he tried to throw the ball late.
Fortunately, a couple of plays later, LB Malcolm Smith tipped a pass and then CB Denzel Ward intercepted it, allowing the Browns to take over back near midfield.
Completions of 11 yards to Landry and seven yards to Chubb set the Browns up with a 2nd-and-3 at the 35 yard line heading to the two-minute warning. The drive fizzled out after that, as Mayfield couldn’t connect with TE David Njoku on back-to-back throws. McLaughlin had a second crack at a 46-yard field goal, and this was doinked off the left upright, but was still good to make it a 6-3 game with 1:02 remaining in the first half.
In a stunning turn of events, Jackson was picked off on the first play by S Grant Delpit, who was tackled at the 28 yard line.
Now the Browns had a chance to tie or take the lead heading into the half. But then, on second down, when the Browns dialed up a screen pass to Hunt, Mayfield had the ball slip from his hand for a fumble, which Baltimore recovered all the way back to midfield.
Now, Baltimore was quickly moving past midfield with a chance to extend their lead or go up by two scores. But then Jackson threw his third interception of the quarter, as S Ronnie Harrison jumped it and picked it! With only 0:21 left, though, the Browns didn’t have enough time to get into scoring range — in fact, they had to punt after a quick three-and-out, but that ended the half.
Just when it looked like the Browns’ defense would get a stop to open the third quarter, Jackson rolled to his right and took a hit as he threw a heave up to Andrews. He was wide open, so Harrison interfered with him for a 39-yard penalty into the red zone. On 3rd-and-10 from the 13 yard line, Jackson faced immediate pressure and backed up about 20 yards, but still managed to find Andrews wide open over the middle for a touchdown to give Baltimore a 13-3 lead with 9:48 remaining in the third quarter.
Cleveland’s first drive of the second half didn’t go too well either. After converting one first down, WR/RB Demetric Felton dropped a third down pass that would’ve moved the chains, leading to a pretty quick punt.
On the next drive, DE Jadeveon Clowney was flagged for roughing the passer despite it being a clean hit on Jackson with his shoulder to the chest, moving the ball to near midfield. Once Baltimore got to midfield, a good closing tackle by LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah helped stall the drive and force a punt, now with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Cleveland’s next drive would begin at the 13 yard line.
The drive began with a 5 yard run to Chubb, and then off of a playaction pass, Mayfield found Landry for a 38-yard connection along the right sideline to pass midfield. An 8-yard completion to Njoku set up a 2nd-and-2 from the 36 yard line. Roughing the passer was called on the Ravens on the next play, moving the ball down to the 21 yard line. Two plays later, Mayfield zipped a pass to Njoku up the seam. He went low to the ground to snag it, and after the review, the ruling on the field stood as a touchdown! That cut the lead to 13-10 with 0:39 remaining in the third quarter.
To begin the fourth quarter, the Browns covered up a screen pass, but Jackson used his speed again to bail Baltimore out and run for eight yards. Baltimore was able to convert the 3rd-and-2 with a give to the wide receiver. Jackson then lofted the ball up for grabs down the middle to Andrews, and the ball tipped off Andrews’ hand and into the hip of S John Johnson III for the interception! Although Cleveland was back to the 13 yard line, they now had new life to re-group with 12:54 remaining.
The Browns’ next drive started with a 16-yard strike to Landry off of playaction. Mayfield went playaction again on the next drive and went for TE Austin Hooper, but the ball was overthrown and fortunately dropped by the defense. On second down, Hunt got the draw play and broke tackles to pick up nine yards. On a key 3rd-and-1, Mayfield ran the first sneak since his should injury and converted. But after that, a toss sweep to Hunt went for a loss of three yards, and then Mayfield was sacked for a loss of seven yards on second down. Facing a 3rd-and-20, an eight-yard completion to WR Jamarcus Bradley only gave Cleveland better room to punt. CB A.J. Green made an outstanding tackle on the punt to keep Baltimore down at the 14 yard line with 8:36 remaining.
The defense got Baltimore into an immediate 3rd-and-7 situation. On third down, the defense tipped Jackson’s pass at the line for an incompletion and a punt right back to the Browns. Cleveland’s next drive began at the 30 yard line, now with 7:25 remaining in the game. After a six-yard run by Chubb, Mayfield couldn’t find anyone on second and third down, leading to a quick punt right back to Baltimore and them improving upon their field position to start at the 24 yard line. More importantly, the clock was down to 6:28 to begin Baltimore’s next drive. And that they did.
The Browns burned their final timeout with 2:55 remaining and Baltimore having a fresh set of downs in field goal range. A first down holding penalty gave the Browns some life, as it made it 1st-and-20 at the 43 yard line with 2:50 remaining. A five-yard run made it 2nd-and-15, with one more snap coming before the two-minute warning. Freeman gained four more yards to set up 3rd-and-11 at the two-minute warning to determine if the offense would get one more crack at things.
Jackson threw a three-yard completion to set up a 49-yard field goal for Tucker, who drilled it as usual to make it a 16-10 game with 1:10 remaining. Cleveland would need to score a touchdown with no timeouts remaining. After back-to-back incompletions, on 3rd-and-10, Hooper couldn’t hang on to a pass that only would’ve gained nine yards anyway. On 4th-and-10, Mayfield was blitzed and had to get rid of it, but could only get it to Njoku underneath, who was tackled short of the first down for a turnover on downs. Ballgame.
The Browns now head into their bye week before turning around to hosting the Ravens in Cleveland.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 18-of-37 for 247 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
- RB Nick Chubb: 8 carries, 16 yards (2.0 YPC). 2 catches, 23 yards.
- RB Kareem Hunt: 7 carries, 20 yards (2.9 YPC).
- WR Jarvis Landry: 6 catches, 111 yards, 1 fumble.
- TE David Njoku: 3 catches, 35 yards, 1 TD.
- DE Myles Garrett: 1 sack.
- 4 interceptions for the defense.