BALTIMORE, MD – On Thursday night the Ravens won their second game in five days, defeating the Cleveland Browns 28-7 at M&T Bank Stadium.
The win propels the Ravens to 5-4 on the season with a 3-0 record against AFC North opponents. No matter what happens this weekend, the Ravens will still be in first place in the AFC North.
As for the Browns, their win-less season continues, as Cleveland stares at an 0-10 mark.
Once again, the Ravens defense put on a dominant performance, limiting the Browns to 144 yards of total offense. Baltimore’s defense shut-out the Browns in the second half after Cleveland made a quarterback change from Cody Kessler to Josh McCown.
After McCown came into the game, Cleveland’s drives ended in four punts, two interceptions, and a fumble. Jerraud Powers and Eric Weddle were the ones who were able to pick off McCown, and Terrell Suggs strip-sacked McCown. Baltimore’s defense was all over the Cleveland signal-callers, defending nine of the 31 passes attempted in the game.
After trailing Cleveland 20-2 in the second quarter of their week 2 match-up, the Ravens have outscored Cleveland 51-7. Being outscored by opponents in the second half has plagued Cleveland all season, headlined by CBS’s NFL Insider Jason La Canfora:
It was not all pretty on Thursday night. Yes, the Ravens’ color rush uniforms were awesome, but the performance put on by the offense in the first half was not. In the first 30 minutes of play, the Ravens put up 189 yards of total offense, but failed to score a touchdown. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw an interception on a deep ball to the end zone, and the Ravens settled for field goals with the ball at the Cleveland 22 and seven-yard lines, receptively.
The first half ended with Tucker’s second field goal, but the Browns had scored a touchdown with six minutes left in the second quarter. That drive was a nice seven play, 75-yard drive, so Cleveland had a 7-6 lead going into the half.
The second half would be a differently story. The quarterback change from Kessler to McCown was a bit surprising, considering Cleveland had the halftime lead. Kessler had only thrown for 91 yards on 11 completions, but he did not turn the ball over. Perhaps the Browns’ head coach, Hue Jackson, thought that McCown’s prior success against the Ravens would bode well for his football team, but McCown was completely inept against the Ravens.
The narrative for the Ravens’ offense also changed after halftime. The Ravens entered the second half with 18 consecutive offensive drives without scoring a touchdown, but on their first drive of the third quarter they put together a nine-play, 64-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to tight end Darren Waller. Waller was the second tight end on the depth chart for this game with Crockett Gillmore dealing with a thigh injury. The touchdown was the first career score for Waller.
On the next Baltimore drive, the Ravens gained 43 yards on five plays before Flacco threw his second interception of the game in the end zone to Cleveland corner-back Joe Haden. That was Haden’s third interception off of Flacco this season. The ensuing Cleveland drive resulted in a punt, and the Ravens answered when they got the ball back. Baltimore marched down the field, headlined by a 25-yard reception by Breshad Perriman that gave the Ravens the ball at Cleveland’s 14-yard line. Three plays later, Flacco found Steve Smith Sr, who got into the end zone for Baltimore’s second touchdown. A two-yard pass from Flacco to fullback Kyle Juszczyk gave the Ravens a two-point conversion and a two-touchdown lead, 21-7.
The Ravens suffered multiple injury scares on those two touchdown plays. On the Waller touchdown, rookie guard Alex Lewis took a bad shot to his right ankle and left the game in an air cast on his leg. However, the X-Rays came back negative, but Lewis was ruled out for the rest of the game. On the Smith score, center Jeremy Zuttah (who was already beat up with leg and back injuries) was down for a minute or two. Zuttah gingerly walked off the field, but did eventually return to the game.
On Baltimore’s next drive, Perriman scored his first NFL touchdown on a 27-yard reception. That drive was a beautiful 12 play, 90-yard drive, and was the nail in the coffin for the Browns. Down 21 points with 6:21 left in the game, Cleveland’s fate was sealed.
Another milestone was reached for Steve Smith Sr. on Thursday night. Smith Sr. finished the game with five receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown. In the effort, he was moved ahead of Reggie Wayne for eighth all-time in receiving yards. He needs just three more catches to reach 1,000 career receptions.
The Ravens now have a mini bye week, as they have 10 days before their next game. Baltimore will travel to Arlington to face the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday, Nov. 21. Kickoff for that game is 1:00 p.m. E.T.