Thursday, September 27, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Ravens 23, Browns 16
By Jamison Hensley
BALTIMORE -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 23-16 victory over the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday:
What it means: The Ravens (3-1) took a half-game lead in the AFC North over the Bengals (2-1) by winning their franchise-record 13th straight game at home, which is also the longest current streak in the NFL. Just like the controversial Monday night game, it came down to a shot to the end zone. But the regular officials didn't have to make a tough call like their replacement counterparts. Brandon Weeden's first pass to the end zone was knocked down and his second one sailed to the back of the end zone. It wasn't pretty, but the Ravens were playing their fourth game in 17 days and were taking on a division opponent in a steady downpour. One of two winless teams in the NFL, the Browns dropped to 0-4 for the fourth time in their history (1975, 1999 and 2009 were the other times). Cleveland has lost 10 in a row, their longest losing streak since losing 10 straight from 2008 to '09.
Celebrating in style: Ravens cornerback Cary Williams intercepted the first pass of his career and he made it memorable. He jumped a Weeden pass on the sideline and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown, which put the Ravens ahead, 23-10, late in the third quarter. Williams has been frequently picked on by quarterbacks this season.
Flacco on the move: Joe Flacco threw for 356 yards, but he also impacted the game with his legs. On third-and-goal in the third quarter, Flacco ran to the outside, where he put a move on Browns linebacker Scott Fujita before scoring on a 1-yard run. Flacco's fifth rushing touchdown of his career put the Ravens ahead, 16-7. Flacco's streak of 125 passes in the red zone without an interception ended earlier in the game.
Ravens' receivers stepping up: The Ravens wide receivers took advantage of the Browns not having their top cornerback Joe Haden, who sat out the third game of a four-game suspension. Anquan Boldin caught nine passes for 131 yards, and Torrey Smith had 97 yards receiving, including his third touchdown in five days.
Another critical drop by Little: It looked like wide receiver Greg Little was getting out of Pat Shurmur's doghouse until he dropped a potential touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Instead of getting the Browns to within 23-20, they had to settle for another long field goal. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin had a pass bounce off his chest while in the end zone in the final minute with the Browns down 23-16.
Richardson keeps up his streak: Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson didn't fare well against the Ravens' run defense, which didn't give him any holes. He finished with 47 yards rushing on 14 carries. Richardson, though, did score a touchdown in his third straight game. He beat Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain to the end zone after taking a pitch from Weeden.
Dawson from long distance: It seemed like last season with the Browns' Phil Dawson hitting long field goals. He converted from 51, 50 and 52 yards. This was his fourth from 50 or longer this year and his 11th since the start of the 2011 season.
Scary moment: Already playing without leading receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), the Browns lost another receiver when Josh Cribbs was knocked out of the game with a head injury. Cribbs' helmet was dislodged on a punt return when linebacker Dannell Ellerbe hit his head with his right shoulder, which also forced a fumble. Cribbs got up on his own power and walked off the field before going to the locker room.
What's next: The Ravens travel for just the second time this season, playing at Kansas City. The Browns are at the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.