Browns Beat the Ravens 12-9
Just when you think that this Ravens team might be different than the mediocre team John Harbaugh has ushered out onto the field since 2013, they go to Cleveland and soil the bed against a rookie quarterback, against the 25th-ranked defense, against a team that really doesn’t yet know how to win.
Yet they did.
Let’s first revisit what went right.
• Anthony Levine, Sr. continues to make plays when given the opportunity. He had 3 passes defensed, one of which was a big one in overtime to force a punt.
• Matt Judon has slumped in 2018 but today he looked more like the versatile player that he was in 2017 contributing a batted pass to force a punt, a hurry and a couple of tackles for losses.
• Za’Darius Smith was a disrupter in the passing game and overall the Ravens secondary and pass rush played well, menacing Baker Mayfield throughout and sacking him five times.
This loss can’t be hung on the defense. To cast the finger of blame, let’s turn our attention towards the side of the ball that deserves the finger.
• Joe Flacco threw the ball 57 times averaging a paltry 5 yards per pass play, in a game that was decided by 3 points while the team averaged 4.6 yards per rush. Let that sink in. Marty Mornhinweg has been good so far this season – until today happened. His play calling was awful.
• Back to Flacco, how does a guy who is 6’6” tall have so many passes blocked at the line of scrimmage? You think maybe he tends to stare down receivers? And that throw on 2nd-and-goal from the two that was picked off by Denzel Ward. Nick Boyle wasn’t even open. An 11-year vet knows better. Well, at least he should.
• Michael Crabtree dropped more balls than a Powerball drawing. The Ravens hired Crabtree to make plays and since that nice toe-tap in the season opener v. Buffalo for a touchdown, he’s been a tap out at his position. The Ravens have little choice but to stick with him but if those hands of stone don’t soften, Flacco might begin to second-guess the Crabtree option in crunch time.
• The Lamar Jackson gadgetry has got to stop. Instead of it being an element of surprise for opponents, opponents only seem surprised that the Ravens keep going to this barren well.
• Special teams have had a number of breakdowns this season. They’ve already had a punt blocked and twice they’ve had holding penalties called against the up-back because teams have beaten the Ravens up the gut when rushing the punter. Today, they had their second FGA of the season blocked.
• The Ravens had 7 first-half possessions that on-average started at their own 38-yard line. Three drives started at the 40 or better and one drive started at the Browns 33 following a Tavon Young interception. Conversely, the Browns’ six first-half possessions started on average from their own 12 with four drives starting at the 10 or deeper. Despite the heavily tilted field and ZERO first-half penalties v. the Browns 5 infractions for 31 yards, the Ravens had just 3 points at half thanks in part to going 0-for-6 on third-down conversion attempts.
• Buck Allen’s third quarter fumble in Ravens territory set up a Browns field goal and Chris Moore’s unnecessary block in the back negated a 17-yard run by Alex Collins to the Browns 36 in overtime and prevented a potential game winner from Justin Tucker. Three plays later the Ravens punted.
If any one of these blunders does NOT happen, the Ravens likely win the game.
It was a comedy of errors.
But following wins by all AFC North rivals, no one in Baltimore is laughing.