It was a tale of two halves, but fortunately, Cleveland’s hot first half and Baltimore having a backup quarterback allowed them to survive in a 24-22 victory. But my goodness, did it feel like we were about to lose. Let’s get to the recap.
The boobirds were out early for the Browns, but they didn’t have much to boo about the rest of the first half. Cleveland received the opening kickoff and proceeded to go three-and-out, including a first down drop by TE Austin Hooper. Baltimore returned the favor by picking up just one first down before having to punt on their opening series, thanks to a third down tackle by DE Takk McKinley on a designed run for QB Lamar Jackson.
On Cleveland’s second drive, they were the benefit of a pair of pass interference penalties on the Ravens’ defense. Mid-way through the first quarter, Cleveland faced a 3rd-and-5 from the Ravens’ 25 yard line. The call was a tight end screen for Hooper, but the defender was there so QB Baker Mayfield threw it into the turf. K Chase McLaughlin came on for the 43-yard field goal attempt, which he hit to give the Browns a 3-0 lead.
Baltimore went three-and-out on their second drive, as the Browns’ defense was delivering some hits on short passes to receivers. The Ravens had an illegal shift on third down, but the defense stopped Jackson’s scramble anyway to force the punt. RB Demetric Felton muffed his second straight punt looking into the sun, but fell back on top of it at the 34 yard line.
The Browns’ running game was still guarded closely, but the third down passing game found success, first with a 34-yard pass to WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, and then a 5-yard completion to RB Kareem Hunt to get into the red zone. On 2nd-and-5 from the 9 yard line, Mayfield faked to RB Nick Chubb and then fired the out route to WR Jarvis Landry, who caught it and then dove into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown. The extra point put Cleveland up 10-0 with 0:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Baltimore went three-and-out again on their next series, as on second down, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah chased down Jackson and tackled him. Jackson gingerly held his ankle and had to come off the field, with backup QB Tyler Huntley replacing him on third down. Huntley threw an incomplete pass, and the punt unit came on — this time with WR JoJo Natson as the return man — to start Cleveland’s next drive at the 23 yard line.
Cleveland continued finding a rhythm on offense, first with Mayfield scrambling for a first down on a 3rd-and-2, then a 15-yard run by Chubb, and followed by a 27-yard sideline catch by Peoples-Jones. Several plays later, on 1st-and-goal from the 1 yard line, Mayfield ran a playaction fake and found Hooper in the back of the end zone for the touchdown to increase Cleveland’s lead to 17-0 with 8:15 remaining in the first half.
Baltimore went three-and-out again, this time with CB Troy Hill knifing in to stop Huntley on a third down quarterback keeper. Cleveland looked to continue their strong first half on the next drive, starting with a 12-yard strike to Peoples-Jones. On the next play, though, Mayfield and Landry appeared to not be on the same page, and his throw was picked off by CB Anthony Averett, who returned it 22 yards to the Browns’ 38 yard line with 5:24 remaining in the half.
The defense held strong, though, forcing another three-and-out. The field position was still enough for the Ravens to get on the board via a 50-yard field goal from K Justin Tucker, making it a 17-3 game with 3:30 remaining in the half. Natson had a heads up play on the ensuing kickoff, stepping out of bounds before touching the football to give Cleveland the ball at the 40 yard line.
RB D’Ernest Johnson began the drive with a 13-yard run past midfield. Cleveland would face a 3rd-and-7 from the 44 yard line heading into the two-minute warning. Mayfield was nearly picked off trying to zip the ball to Peoples-Jones downfield, as the defensive back dropped the ball twice after a deflection. P Dustin Colquitt’s punt was downed at the 9 yard line with 1:43 to go.
The field position paid off — after Baltimore picked up one first down, with 0:57 left, Huntley dropped back to throw and DE Myles Garrett hit his hand as he was trying to throw. The ball came loose, and somehow Garrett ended up being the guy to also scoop and score on the other side of the field for a 15-yard fumble return and touchdown! That put the Browns up 24-3 with 0:49 left in the half.
Unfortunately, Baltimore was able to quickly drive downfield and add a 42-yard field goal by Tucker heading into the half, with Cleveland up 24-6.
Baltimore got the ball to begin the third quarter and were looking to continue their momentum. They quickly marched down to the 12 yard line, sparked by a 32-yard catch-and-run by TE Mark Andrews. On 2nd-and-6 from the 12 yard line, Huntley looked to scramble and didn’t sense McKinley coming from behind. The big hit forced a fumble with Ifeadi Odenigbo recovering. In addition, a late hit by the Ravens added 15 yards to put the ball at the 28 yard line.
Cleveland was able to burn some time off the clock on their next drive. After getting past midfield, Mayfield took a hit on a second down play, and he was told to go to the injury tent to his dismay. QB Case Keenum came in to hand the ball off, and Cleveland had a first down run, but it was called back due to a holding penalty. On 3rd-and-13, the Browns ran the same play, this time short of the first down, to punt the ball away.
Baltimore began their next possession at the 17 yard line, now with 6:45 remaining in the third quarter. A few penalties kept sending the Ravens backwards, but a crazy scramble by Huntley (with a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the defense) put Tucker in range for a 55-yard field goal, which he again drilled right down the middle. That closed the lead to a two-possession game, 24-9, with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter.
Mayfield returned to action after being cleared from the concussion protocol, and then to begin the fourth quarter, he fired a 16-yard strike to Landry on the left sideline. A few runs by Chubb got Cleveland into field goal range while ticking more time off the clock. McLaughlin came on for a 41-yard field goal, but he banged it off the right upright, pushing it to be no good, and still giving Baltimore some hope with 11:33 remaining in the game.
What happened to start the next drive was bizarre for the Browns’ defense. They did a great job forcing a quick 4th-and-11, but Baltimore went for it despite being backed up in their own territory. The defense allowed Andrews to be uncovered for 13 yards, then allowed a quick 20-yard completion to an uncovered Andrews. That was followed by a 36-yard catch-and-run to WR Ronald Bateman down to the 1 yard line, and then RB Latavius Murray punched it in for a touchdown to make it a 24-15 game with 8:56 to go in the game.
RASHOD BATEMAN!— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 12, 2021
Tune in on CBS pic.twitter.com/5fzFcb0BMS
Baltimore went for two, and it was intercepted by S Grant Delpit in the end zone, keeping it a two-score game.
The offense got two short completions to begin the next drive, setting up a 3rd-and-4. The receivers were covered as Mayfield tried to buy time, but he had to throw it in the turf for an incomplete pass and a three-and-out. Baltimore took over with 7:20 to go and all the momentum. The defense stepped up this time, though, forcing a three-and-out. On the third down play, they brought pressure, and Huntley had an intentional grounding penalty. At 4th-and-24 at the 8 yard line, they couldn’t go for it this time and had to punt with 6:51 to go.
Cleveland’s offense went three-and-out again, so the clock running was the only benefit there. Colquitt’s punt got the Ravens’ next drive started at the 10 yard line. Baltimore completed a lot of short passes that got them down the field, but also took time off the clock. Huntley took a deep shot heading into the two-minute warning, and Cleveland’s defender fell down. Fortunately, the pass was overthrown, setting up a 3rd-and-10 at the two-minute warning from the 42 yard line.
On 4th-and-6 from the 38 yard line, Huntley got a perfect 30-yard sideline pass to Bateman to the 8 yard line, then quickly lofted an 8-yard touchdown pass to Andrews to make it a 24-22 game with 1:17 to go and Baltimore having two timeouts remaining.
Baltimore went for the onside kick, and the ball bounced right off Janovich, allowing the Ravens to recover.
CHUCK GETS IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 12, 2021
TUNE IN ON CBS!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/Qlk9QpXUjS
Baltimore took over at their own 41 yard line. After a first down incompletion, DE Jadeveon Clowney got a big sack on second down for a loss of 10 yards. On 3rd-and-20, Huntley fired a 14-yard pass to Andrews. That set up 4th-and-6 from the 45 yard line, the defense needing one stop. Cleveland brought the blitz, Huntley delivered the slant, and Ward ended the game the same we he started it: a big hit to secure the victory. Whew and JFC.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 22-of-32 for 190 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. 6 rushes, 14 yards.
- RB Nick Chubb: 17 carries, 59 yards. 3 catches, 6 yards.
- WR Jarvis Landry: 5 catches, 41 yards, 1 TD.
- DE Myles Garrett: 1 sack, fumble recovery for touchdown.