-The Ravens 1st quarter was excellent, they rushed out to a 14-0 lead and then fell flat on their face for 2 quarters allowing the Browns to go on a 15 point run and take a 1 point lead 15-14.
-The major factor in the Ravens offensive struggles was Marshall Yanda. Yanda was injured on the first (offensive) play of the second half and returned on the first drive of the fourth quarter. not coincidentally, that was the time the Ravens run game picked back up and the offense found its rhythm.
-The second issue was rhythm itself. The Ravens play calling was terrible. on almost every drive they ran the ball 2 times(usually for between 0 and 4 yards) and then chucked up a deep pass. not only was it horribly predictable, but it didnt allow Flacco to have any kind of rhythm at all. You can’t just ask a QB to throw one pass a drive and make that pass a 25+ yard bomb on third and long. Flacco started the game 10-10 and then went on a stretch where at one point he was 1-10(all nine of his incompletions came in the second and third quarters), he was 4-4 with a TD in the fourth quarter. You have to give you QB a chance to make plays, and the Ravens play calling in the second and third quarters was so predictable and unfriendly to Flacco, that they almost prevented themselves from winning. I am not big on criticizing Cam Cameron, I don’t think he gets enough credit and he does a good job, but this game was horribly called.
-Trent Richardson became just the third rookie to rush for 100 yards against the Ravens D. he had 105 yards, but it took him 25 carries to get there and he never seemed terribly threatening. He just ground out the yards. It was a great showing for Richardson, but he was far from dominant.
-The Ravens linebackers had their best game of the season by far. Ellerbe and McClain were all over the field racking up a combined 15 total tackles and a sack. The outside backers Kruger, Upshaw, McClellin and Suggs also had good showings. Suggs was taunting the Dawg Pound before the game and looked a lot like the old Suggs. He was a bit slow off the snap and showed he doesn’t have all of his explosion back, but he still got good pressure and probably could have been credited with a 1/2 sack if the stat guys had wanted to give it to him(for the record, Ellerbe deserved to keep the whole thing, but i have seen similar plays be called 1/2 sacks for each guy before).
-Cary Williams has really stepped up. He was the only good Ravens corner last week and he was excellent today. he had yet another interception, giving him 4 on the season after not having one in his entire career until week 4 against the Browns. Jimmy Smith continues to try and gamble and not play physically enough against his receivers. He was called for pass interference when he grabbed a tight end to prevent him from running away…that type of penalty is inexcusable because Jimmy is significantly faster and was in good position, it was just a dumb penalty and it cost the Ravens 3 points. Smith shows flashes of greatness but he has to clean up his game to take his play to the next level.
-The Ravens Have not lost back to back games since 2009, they are 5-0 after losses over that stretch.
– The Ravens have now won an NFL best 11 straight division games. not only is 11 straight the best mark for a division team, but no team in the outside of the division has won more than 2 straight against the AFC North.
-Ed Reed has 60 career interceptions now. Many years ago I predicted Reed would have a 75 interception career. Reed may fall short of that number, but 60 is nothing to take lightly. Reed also now has 11 career picks against the Browns, the most by any player against a singe opponent. Reed dropped 2 interceptions during the game and, in traditional Ed Reed style, caught the most difficult one, at the most important point in the game to put the icing on the cake.
-Joe Flacco has still never lost to the Browns. He, along with Ray Rice and John Harbaugh, is now 10-0 against the Browns.