Baltimore Ravens Defeat Cleveland Browns: 3 Big Things
On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens improved to 8-6 with a 27-10 victory over the still-winless Cleveland Browns. With Baltimore still in the thick of the AFC Wild Card picture, what are 3 Big Things RavensFlock can take away from the win?
1. Questionable red zone play-calling hurts team in embarrassing fashion
Is that header a little harsh? Sure. Did Baltimore’s second quarter drive that stalled on the one-yard line have a significant impact on the final score? No. Still, this drive took place three drives after an underwhelming 13-play opening possession that ended with a field goal. When the Ravens ran three plays (two runs) from Cleveland’s one-yard line and failed score a touchdown, it felt like the game would turn into a Justin Tucker special.
On this particular drive, the Ravens faced a 1st-and-goal situation on the Browns’ 4-yard line. The first play saw Flacco, in shotgun, run to the right and sequentially get drilled by three Cleveland defenders one yard short of the end zone. The next play was an incomplete play-action pass to tight end Nick Boyle. On 3rd and 4th down, the Ravens dialed Alex Collins’ number. The 3rd-down run went inside to the right, and the 4th-down play sent Collins outside, and he ended up losing three yards on the play.
Nothing could go wrong with the Ravens giving the Browns the ball back at their own 4-yard line, right? Wrong. The goal-line stand seemed to light a fire for the Browns. On the first play of the Cleveland drive, running back Isaiah Crowell broke free 59 yards to the Baltimore 37-yard line. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer than picked up two first downs with his legs; runs of eight and nine yards. On the fifth play of the drive from the Ravens’ 12-yard line, Duke Johnson Jr. took it the distance.
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A gutsy call that didn’t work:
The Browns’ first and only touchdown of the game gave Cleveland a 7-3 lead a few minutes into the second quarter. If John Harbaugh and the Ravens’ coaching staff elected to kick their second field goal of the game, rather than going for it on fourth down, Baltimore would have led 6-0 with momentum still own their side. The goal line stand gave Cleveland a spark, and they took advantage in quick fashion.
Harbaugh and the Ravens can get away with poor decisions against teams like the Browns, Colts, and Bengals, but if Baltimore makes the playoffs, they can’t afford to make decisions that keep teams in games. They should have taken the points. They allowed the Browns to get fired up. We’ve seen bad coaching situations like this before, and this drive brought all of those bad memories back.