BALTIMORE — Last week, the Baltimore Ravens forced five turnovers in a 20-0 shutout win over the Bengals. The Ravens did not pitch a shutout today, but they caused five turnovers again in their 24-10 win over the Cleveland Brown. Baltimore advances to 2-0, and now ties Pittsburgh for first place in the AFC North. The Browns and Bengals sit in the cellar of the division, both sporting 0-2 records.
Just like last week, four different players – Eric Weddle, Brandon Carr, Lardarius Webb, and Tyus Bowser, recorded interceptions on the afternoon. Three of the interceptions came from the arm of DeShone Kizer, who missed a portion of Sunday’s game with a migraine. The Ravens literally gave Kizer a headache, limiting him to 182 yards and a 27.3 rating. Kizer did not throw a touchdown pass.
With Kizer out of the game, second-year quarterback Kevin Hogan subbed in for four series. The Browns scored all 10 of their points with Hogan leading the offense, but the coaching staff elected for Kiser’s return to the game after his migraine evaluation.
The first turnover of the game – a Terrell Suggs strip-sack of Kizer that got recovered by Matthew Judon – led to Baltimore’s first touchdown of the contest. The fumble recovery gave the Ravens the ball at Cleveland’s 33-yard line. Joe Flacco and the offense went on a seven-play drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown run from Terrance West. West’s second touchdown run of the season put Baltimore up 7-0 with 3:56 remaining in the opening stanza.
The two teams combined to score three touchdowns in the second quarter; two of them by the Ravens. On Baltimore’s first possession of the second period, Flacco found tight end Benjamin Watson twice for 43 combined yards. Buck Allen then ran for four yards, and after caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Flacco. The score marks Allen’s second career touchdown; the first since Dec. 27, 2015 against the Steelers.
Down 14-0, the Browns offense responded. On a quick 5-play drive of 83 yards, Hogan found Seth DeValve for a 49-yard gain. Following a five-yard run by Hogan, the backup quarterback found rookie David Njoku for a 23-yard touchdown. The score goes down as the first career touchdown pass for Hogan, and the first career reception for NJjoku.
The Ravens led 14-7 with about five minutes remaining in the first half, but the rest of the half became crazy. The teams traded punts before the Ravens appeared to be driving out to the 40-yard line of Cleveland. Facing 4th-and-6, the Ravens elected to attempt a 58-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. The kick flew wide right, giving the Browns the football almost at midfield.
Fortunately for the Ravens, Bowser intercepted Hogan and ran the ball back 27 yards. With the ball at Cleveland’s 40-yard line, Allen went up the field for a 37-yard gain. He came extremely close to scoring, but got tripped up at Cleveland’s 2-yard line. Immediately after, Flacco found Jeremy Maclin on a slant for a touchdown. The decision to go for the touchdown could be considered controversial, because only five seconds remained in the half, and the Ravens did not have any timeouts. After Maclin scored, the clock appeared to wind down to zero, but the officials ordered one second back on the clock before halftime.
After Baltimore’s attempted onside kick, the two teams went into the locker rooms with the Ravens up 21-7.
The second half did not begin well for Baltimore. On the first play from scrimmage, guard Marshal Yanda got his ankle caught in a pile. Trainers helped Yanda walk off the field. After the game, head coach John Harbaugh announced that the injury is season-ending.
The Ravens also lost linebacker Bam Bradley for the season on Sunday, when the undrafted rookie tore his ACL playing special teams.
After Yanda exited the game, the Ravens eventually punted. The Browns, still with Hogan in the game for Kizer, ran an eight-play drive that featured five passes, including a 34-yard catch-and-run to Duke Johnson. After that big play, however, the Browns could not pick up another first down, and settled on a 34-yard field goal.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Ravens answered with a 28-yard field goal of their own from Tucker, making it a 24-10 ballgame. On that drive, running back Alex Collins, activated off the practice squad this week, ran for 20 yards on two carries. He finished second on the team with 42 rushing yards on seven carries (Allen led with 66 rushing yards on 14 carries), but fumbled on the next drive.
The Ravens did not score for the rest of the game, but intercepted a returning Kizer two more times. Webb’s pick might be the biggest moment of the game, because it happened in the end zone on a 2nd-and-goal play. If the Browns scored on that drive, their deficit would’ve cut to seven points. On Cleveland’s drive following the Collins fumble, Carr caught his second interception of the season with 6:21 left to play.
After only attempting 17 passing plays last week, Flacco attempted twice as many this week (34), completing 25 passes for 217 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Flacco got sacked twice on Sunday for 16 combined yards in losses.
Watson led Ravens receivers, catching eight passes for 91 yards. Allen followed with 35 reception yards on five catches. Maclin caught four balls for 31 yards and a touchdown. Maclin left the game for a period in the first quarter with a neck stinger, but returned.
On defense, C.J. Mosley led the Ravens with 10 tackles (eight solo). Tony Jefferson, who led in tackles last week, finished second with five (four solo). Suggs and Patrick Onwuasor notched sacks in the game.
For Cleveland, Jamar Taylor and Christian Kirksey led the team with nine tackles apiece. Two of Taylor’s tackles caused losses in yards. Derrick Kindred had three tackles-for-loss. Jason McCourty intercepted Flacco in the first half. Kirksey and James Burgess got into Baltimore’s backfield and sacked Flacco.
Up Next: The Ravens embark on their very first trip overseas to London to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) next Sunday, Sept. 24 at Wembley Stadium. The Ravens are one of the few teams left in the NFL that have yet to play overseas. The game will kick off at about 2:30 pm in London, meaning that it will start at 9:30 am on the east coast. Jacksonville upset Houston 29-7 to open up the season, but lost to the Titans 37-16 on Sunday.
The Ravens depart for London on Thursday.
Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens