Sep 21, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (34) runs from Cleveland Browns inside linebacker Craig Robertson (53) during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The ground game once again put this team in a position to win, even though it was rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro that got the call this time in his first regular season NFL action. Taliaferro proceeded to look like the best back on the team as he took 18 carries for 91 yards (5.1 average) and a touchdown. He ran decisively and with power, looking like a superior option to incumbent Bernard Pierce.
Justin Forsett played his usual change of pace role, taking 11 carries for 63 yards (5.7 average). Forsett has proven to be an excellent passing down fit for this offense and generated a big spark with a 22 yard gain. Unfortunately he wasn’t as proficient in the passing game Sunday, as he could only net 2 yards on 5 targets and 4 receptions.
Once again the story of the passing game was Steve Smith, who caught 5 of 7 targets for 101 yards while racking up 25 yards after the catch. 21 of those yards came against Joe Haden, who is widely considered to be a lock down corner in the NFL. Smith burned him to put the Ravens in position for that aforementioned game winning field goal.
Outside of S. Smith, the passing game wasn’t anything to write home about. Joe Flacco had an uneven performance, completing 19 of 31 passes for 217 yards (7.0 avg) with one touchdown and one interception (75.9 QBR). Torrey Smith had another disappointing outing, securing only 2 of 7 targets for 25 yards.
The only bright spot in the passing game other than Steve Smith was fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who caught his first regular season catch, which went for a touchdown. Juice wound up catching three balls on four targets for 53 yards and received his first positive grade from Pro Football Focus of the season. He may see his role grow even more going forward after the Ravens seem to have lost Dennis Pitta for perhaps the entire season.