The Browns have aspirations of two playoff seasons in a row. Each game means something, like the difference from competing in the post-season to sitting home watching the playoffs on the big screen.
The Browns went into this game sitting at 6-6-0 coming out of their the bye week. The season began with an illustrious 3-1-0 record, but since have compiled a 3-5-0 result with a 1-2 record division record. A win today was imperative if the team has any aspirations of getting one of the lower AFC seeds.
After getting beat by these same Ravens 16-10 two weeks ago in a game in which the Browns’ defense provided four picks yet their offensive counterpart netted zero points off those turnovers, every game that remains on the schedule is basically a “must” win.
Before this game, Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh was 23-4 against the Browns. And while they built a huge lead against the Ravens who was suddenly without their starting QB, Cleveland held on to a needed 24-22 victory.
So who played well for the Browns in the rebound game against Baltimore? Who didn’t?
DE Myles Garrett - Cleveland’s resident Superman had an incredible game. Only three tackles, but each one came at an opportune time. In the second quarter with just :49 to go before halftime, the Ravens got it into their head to get down into field goal position. Garrett beat RT Tyre Phillips to the outside, then moved in as Ravens backup QB Tyler Huntley stepped sideways to avoid the rush. Garrett then placed a big paw on the football which caused Huntley to fumble. The loose ball first hit Jadeveon Clowney, then Greedy Williams whiffed on the recovery in an attempted scoop-and-score, to which Garrett got the ball and scooted for the touchdown. The play for Garrett was registered as a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and defensive touchdown.
CB Denzel Ward - What a wonderful game Ward had. For starters, his man the speedster Hollywood Brown had just five catches for 41 yards and zero scores. Halfway through the first quarter, Ward got everybody’s attention when he smacked Baltimore RB Devonta Freeman with a tackle that anyone standing outside the stadium could hear. Into the second stanza, on a good Ravens drive Ward forced out WR Devin Duvernay on an end around that at first had long run written all over it. Oh yeh - and that game saving tackle. Baltimore assumed they would simply get the fourth-and-six at their own 45-yard line with a short pass to Rashod Bateman which only gained a couple instead of six. Nice game.
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - On the final play, it was JOK on a blitz that forced Huntley to release the pass before Bateman could go the necessary yardage for the first down. In fact, he almost tipped or blocked the toss. JOK also knocked out Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. That alone deserves extra walnuts in his Brownie.
Zero sacks - The offensive line rotated in Blake Hance and rookie James Hudson and had some issues on passing downs. In the end, QB Baker Mayfield wasn’t sacked a single time. Nice job as a working unit.
DE Jadeveon Clowney - After having a mediocre season, Clowney busted out against the Ravens with glimpses of his former dominating self. Three total tackles, one tackle for loss, two QB hits, 1.5 sacks plus a key batted pass. His sack of Huntley on their final drive was a deal buster for the Ravens as they had visions of yet another long Justin Tucker field goal. The hole ended up being a third-and-20 and just too much to overcome. The next play was the Ward tackle to seal the win.
Two point conversion stop - This one play may have saved the season. The second half was all-Ravens as the Cleveland offense took the half off. There would be a real possibility that the hot hand of Baltimore’s offense could have taken the game into overtime, but luckily that never occurred when S Grant Delpit intercepted the Huntley attempt.
Defense - Overall, the defense kept the Browns in the game when the offense sputtered. There were big plays the entire game from Clowney’s sack at the game’s end to Ward’s game saving tackle to Garrett’s strip sack for a touchdown to Delpit’s interception on the two-point conversion. In the first half Baltimore was stymied with four punts, a fumble and just two field goals after being stopped on key third downs.
Defense stopping Ravens’ fourth down attempts - Baltimore went for it on fourth down four different attempts, and despite the success on the final try, the other three were not only completed for a first down, but each one looked quite easy including the fourth-and-11 at their 30-yard line early in the third quarter that went for 20-yards to TE Mark Andrews. That drive ended up as Baltimore’s first touchdown of the game. 3-4 on fourth down attempts is unacceptable.
Defense covering TE Mark Andrews - It was almost as if Andrews had some sort of force field around him as no defender was even close to him for most of the game. Andrews made a fourth-and-one plus the aforementioned key fourth down that netted 20-yards. On the game’s final score, an eight-yard TD pass from Huntley to Andrews, S Grant Delpit, LB Malcolm Smith and S John Johnson were in front of Andrews instead of behind him. How does that happen?
Two-minute defense before the half - The Ravens got the ball on their own 23 with just 47 ticks before the half. Cleveland’s defense then allowed a run of 18-yards plus pass completions of nine and 20 which set Baltimore at the Browns’ 24 with six seconds left. The end result was another field goal.
Second half offense - What happened? In the first two quarters, the offensive was on fire and was helped by Garrett’s defensive touchdown. The defense was playing well with the Ravens only able to score two field goals. The score? 24-6. The final score? 24-22. What was missing in the second half? The Browns’ offense. Literally. 5 for 10 for 47 passing yards, 49 rushing yardage, 3-7 on third down plays, four rushes for loss, three punts, and one missed field goal. Oh, and a stoppage of scoring points. Twice towards the end of the game Cleveland had the ball with the intent to simply run out the clock. That didn’t happen either time with drives of four and five plays. Good teams know how to finish. Both Jarvis Landry and DPJ had great first halves, yet were invisible after halftime.
Milk Bones – when someone’s laugh is funnier than the joke
Special Teams - The success rate of an onside kick in the NFL this season is a mere 8%. Andy Janovich helped to up that percentage when he leaned into the path of the ball while on an attempted block. Thank goodness Lamar Jackson wasn’t the opposing quarterback at the time. Punt coverage team remains stellar with Elijah Lee, RIchard LeCounte and M.J. Stewart doing most of the damage. K Chase McLaughlin now has missed a field goal in three consecutive matches but nailed a 43-yarder. Substitute Dustin Colquitt’s 39.2 punt average is a yawner.
Kick returners - Demetric Felton fielded two punts with two fumbles. Ouch. His replacement JoJo Natson displayed an incredible play that most NFL fans did not know existed when he waited for the loose kickoff then leaned his foot out-of-bounds while gaining control of the ball. By rule, this becomes just like a kick out-of-bounds which results in a starting position on the 40. Nice heads up.
First half TE Austin Hooper and WR Jarvis Landry - Finally, some positive tight end play and some positives with Landry with a touchdown catch apiece - in the first two quarters. For the second half, each player was AWOL.
QB Baker Mayfield - His first half performance was pretty good. His interception intended for Landry and misfired was just plain dumb after Cleveland had built a good lead. He also had a supposed fumble which could have been a disaster. 16-20 for 143 yards in the first half with two touchdown passes in the first half. Just 47 yards with six completions in the second half was a classic yawner.
LB Jacob Philips - This defense needed some infusion and Phillips quietly had a decent game in his return. With 4:15 to go in the game, it was Phillips who absolutely destroyed Freeman on a short pass that gained only a couple. Happy return.
CB Troy Hill - The veteran had his bright spots and was in a bad location on others. Halfway through the first quarter he made the tackle on Hundley on the third-and-three. With less than five minutes left in the game, he was late on his coverage of Duvernay which gained a key first down on the Ravens last touchdown drive.
RB Nick Chubb - Not a great game with just 59-yards, but was a brute when he had to be.
What do you think the offense’s problems were in the second half?
This poll is closed
QB play and decisions
Lack of running game