The Ravens entered this game at 6.5-point favorites after winning their two opening games against much weaker opponents. Last week the Ravens came crashing back to earth with a tough loss to the Chiefs, the 33-28 score line belying the fact that the game itself was actually not very close, garbage time scores by the Ravens saw to that. The Browns performances have been ascending, since the unfortunate events of the season opener, improving each outing but the results not exactly matching improvement in the last outing versus the Rams. With the boo boys already making noise, calling for Freddie’s head and questioning Baker’s credentials as a franchise QB, this game already had a “must-win” feel to it from the onset.
Story of the Game
The game played out as an edgy and close affair through the first half, both teams trading sacks with initial exchanges. An impressive 80-yard drive by the Browns was to follow, with chunk plays from Landry, Chubb, and Ratley, leading to a Ricky Seals-Jones TD. This was by far the most efficient and effective the Browns have looked all year. Following some stunted drives, the Browns defense who had been holding tight all day were brought on to the field via a an intercepted pass, where Landry stopped short on his route contributing towards the turnover. Lamar Jackson then marched the Ravens downfield, finishing the drive with a TD pass to Boykin. An Austin Seibert FG put the Browns up 10-7 at HT but it did feel like the Browns left some points on the pitch at that point.
The second half was characterized by the Ravens ineffective offense failing to make much ground, while Nick Chubb appeared to run at will. He really took the Ravens defense to school on an 88-yard touchdown run, reminiscent of last year’s 92-yard sprint versus the Falcons. Interceptions by Whitehead and Lawrence killed any momentum the Ravens were trying to build. The life had been sucked out of Baltimore and the stadium by the time Dontrelle Hilliard ran in the final Browns TD. All that remained was a garbage time Willie Snead TD to finalize the score at 25-40, this scoreline has the game closer than it actually was.
How the Game was Won
This game was won by both sides of the ball playing a well-executed game plan. Steve Wilkes had to scheme his D knowing a significant portion of his secondary was still missing for this week. The corners stood 8 yards off and played soft all game. They gave up the short passes and kept the chunk plays to a minimum. Up front, the big boys stopped the run effectively and neutralized one of the most effective running games through the first three weeks of the season.
The offense looked to have taken a leap forward, out with the head scratching calls, lack of running game and absence of identity. In with, quick snappy plays, ball out quick, a healthy dose of running the ball and most importantly, some teeth in the Redzone. The O line played well, giving Baker sufficient time and Chubb good lanes to run, this was key to the offense being an effective unit all game.
Three Big Takeaways from the Game
- This was somewhat of a coming out party for the Browns; the result was coming based on the noticeable improvements game over game this year.
- Lamar Jackson’s early season prowess appears to be very much linked to strength of opposition. With the Steelers having much to prove, The AFC North could be shaping up very much as we expected at the beginning of the season, where the Browns were favored heavily.
- The Browns O line turned up today, creating good running lanes for the run game (especially Tretter and Kush on Chubb’s 88-yard run) and providing a good clean pocket for Baker against a decent Ravens front. There were penalties and both tackles missed assignments on occasion. However, many of these shortcomings were negated by establishing the run and getting the ball out of Bakers hands early.
Week 4 Awards
- Stud of the Day – Nick Chubb
- Dud of the Day – Ravens Offence
- Sneaky Good Player of Day – Schobert / Whitehead
- Didn’t Play as Bad as the Stat Sheet Suggests – Odell Beckham
Next on the plate
The undefeated 49ers await the Browns on Monday night football, with wins over the Buccaneers, Bengals and Steelers under their belts, coming off a bye week and playing at home, the 49ers will be favored by Vegas going into this game. This will be a big test for the Browns as the 49ers defense has shown well so far. Key players to watch in this matchup, TE George Kittle, WR Deebo Samuel and the entire D line.
John Cahill – @twogreenbrowns