Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens Recap: What happened?

Well, that was unexpected.

Of all the possible outcomes I envisioned occurring, a Browns blowout was not one of them. I expected an all-around close game with neither team establishing much of an advantage. In real life, the Browns went on a 30-8 run after the Ravens opened the second half with a field goal. The Browns scored four rushing touchdowns, three coming from the legs of Nick Chubb. The highlight of the game was an 88-yard touchdown run by Chubb which ended any realistic hope of the Ravens coming back into the game. In all, Chubb ran for 165 yards, gashing the interior of the Ravens’ defense repeatedly. The Browns racked up 193 total rushing yards, nudging out Baltimore’s tally of 173 on the same number of carries.

In the passing game, Baker Mayfield went for 342 yards and a touchdown while Lamar Jackson threw for 247 yards and a trio of scores. Neither quarterback finished without a blemish as Mayfield tossed one interception, and Jackson had a pair in the fourth quarter. The star man for the Browns’ passing attack was Jarvis Landry. Landry did not score, but he compiled 167 yards on eight catches including 65 on one catch which set up a field goal before the end of the first half. For Baltimore, Seth Roberts, Mark Andrews, and Marquise Brown paced the team with four catches each, but Willie Snead led the team with 61 yards on just a pair of catches. His tally is misleading as 50 of the yards came on a garbage-time touchdown in the final minute.

What is to blame for the Ravens losing?

This might be the easiest answer all year.

The defense is to blame.

From top to bottom, the defense was porous and ineffective. Except for Marlon Humphrey and Maurice Canady, the Ravens looked lost when the Browns had the ball. The run defense was crucified by the Browns, and receivers were left wide open, enabling lengthy runs-after-the-catch by Jarvis Landry and Ricky Seals-Jones.

The offense does not escape blame as a Mark Ingram fumble ruined a potential scoring drive. If Ingram does not fumble, the Ravens likely keep the ball for an additional minute or two and do not allow the Browns to gain the initiative. Even if the drive does not yield a touchdown, being down 17-13 with some momentum is more advantageous than being down 17-10 with no momentum. After falling 30-18, Lamar Jackson launched an interception. The pick should not be fully blamed on Jackson as Jermaine Whitehead made a tremendous play on the ball. If Mark Andrews jumps slightly higher, the ball likely falls incomplete or into the hands of Andrews for a 50-yard touchdown. After forcing a punt, Jackson saw a tipped pass end in the hands of another Browns defender. Neither interceptions can be blamed on Jackson, but he simply ran out of the luck that he had in the first few weeks of the season.

Things we learned this week:

Marlon Humphrey is the best cornerback not named Stephon Gilmore.

Humphrey held Odell Beckham, Jr. to no catches through three-and-a-half quarters before Beckham grabbed a pair in garbage time. Humphrey, while physical, annoyed Beckham throughout the game, inciting a fight as Beckham punched Humphrey before Humphrey began to choke Beckham on the ground. Humphrey had been a tremendous cornerback in terms of advanced metrics, but the eye test shone brightly for Humphrey as he batted away a pair of passes and got under the skin of Beckham.

The Ravens have a messy defense.

From back to front, the defensive effort was atrocious (besides Humphrey). The rush defense got crunched by Nick Chubb, and the pass defense was gashed with Jarvis Landry and Ricky Seals-Jones. It was quite a pathetic showing.

Things we learned last week:

Patrick Mahomes is still good.

He did not throw a touchdown against the Lions, but Mahomes engineered clutch drive after clutch drive, leading the Chiefs to a victory.

Lamar Jackson is flawed, yet he has the “it” factor.

Jackson had a productive day, throwing for over 300 yards in total and tossing three touchdowns. He is the only quarterback to have four games with 300 yards and a touchdown. His pair of interceptions were not bad throws, but they became inevitable with the number of passing attempts. Jackson will be fine moving forward.

The Ravens cannot force turnovers.

The Ravens have forced three turnovers in four games. While that does not sound too bad, the Ravens have a +0 turnover difference despite only turning the ball over in one of four games. For the Ravens to recover defensively, they must force more turnovers.

The rushing game is still the way to go.

The rushing offense was effective as both Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson were able to gash the Browns. However, the rush defense was porous, and Nick Chubb obliterated any semblance of a Baltimore defense.

A look to next week:

The 2-2 Ravens head to Pittsburgh to take on the 1-3 Steelers. The 2-2 Browns head to San Francisco to play the 3-0 49ers on Monday Night Football.

A look into the AFC playoff picture:

As of now, the Browns are in first place in the AFC North for the first time since 2014. They occupy the fourth spot in the AFC playoff picture. Despite being tied with the Browns and six other 2-2 teams in the AFC, the Ravens are maligned to 11th place in the AFC due to an appalling strength of victory.

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