Ravens 23, Browns 21
“What is it…? We sure don’t make it easy,” said Joe Flacco after the Ravens 23-21 victory over the Browns in Cleveland. It’s never easy, never pretty – the Ravens Way.
The Ravens could have packed it in yesterday. They squandered opportunities to score points on offense and blew coverages on defense that led to big plays for the Browns.
All in a days’ work–the Ravens have been winning this way for years. It’s yin and yang, darkness and light, and somehow we grind it out.
The Browns also left points on the field, including two field goals by Billy Cundiff that would have provided enough separation to win the game. Brian Hoyer torched the Ravens defense for 290 yards in the air but when the game was on the line, he failed to deliver against the Ravens pressure. The Browns outplayed the Ravens for most of the game, except the last five minutes.
Cornerback Asa Jackson blocked a field goal that shifted momentum in our direction and made a great play on a critical third down, breaking up a pass play with Cleveland deep in their own territory.
In the end, Joe Flacco connected to Steve Smith, Sr. on a 32-yard pass to put the Ravens in field goal position to win the game. Smith, Sr. is quickly becoming the heart and soul of the Ravens offense.
Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro gained 91 yards but was gassed in the fourth quarter. The Ravens failed to convert on 3rd and 4th down from the Browns 20 yard line—a familiar story—with Taliaferro stuffed at the point of contact. In retrospect, the shifty Forsett should have been in the game but our coaching staff deserves a ton of credit for making the in-game adjustments necessary to win.
Our offensive arsenal took a hit with Dennis Pitta re-injuring his hip. Jacoby Jones dropped a pass reminiscent of his Denver playoff bomb and Torrey Smith had a quiet day but did draw a penalty late that led to a score. It’s time to play Deonte Thompson and to also see what Michael Campanaro can do.
Cleveland native, Kyle Jusczcyk scored his first touchdown as a Raven and had three catches for 51 yards. He is part of the Ravens Ohio football fraternity that includes Harbaugh, John Simon, Keith Wenning, Kevin Byrne, Jamie Meder, and honorary members Gerry Sandusky and Stan White.
Good teams win these games, and the Ravens had just enough to pull it off.
We knew going into the season that our secondary was suspect and Hoyer made us pay. Our safeties nearly costs us the game and must improve for us to make the playoffs. I have confidence in John Harbaugh to address the situation.
We also knew going into the season that we have more people who can make game-changing plays. Asa Jackson was that guy in Cleveland.
With more garbage swirling around them from new reports designed to keep the Ray Rice story alive for as long as possible, the team refused to fold on the shores of Lake Eerie.
“I’m just a player,” said Flacco on the CBS postgame show as the reporter tried to get him to comment on the latest ESPN story. “My work is on the field.”
All of this negative publicity will keep the team sharp. They compete with an urgency on every play. They are playing for each other, and that’s a good sign.