The Baltimore Ravens came out a ball on fire to jump up 14-0 only to see the Cleveland Browns come back to take a one point lead, before Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense scored ten unanswered fourth quarter points to claim a 25-15 road victory and remain atop the AFC North division.
Baltimore's offense, who many fans were anxiously waiting to see how it would look after the bye week, came out unstoppable in their first two drives of the game. The Ravens drove 70 yards on 10 plays that saw Ray Rice rush six times for 32 yards, and Flacco was 4-4 for 38 yards and capped the drive off with a Rice eight yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead. After the Ravens defense forced a Browns three and out, the offense proceeded to march right back down the field with a 12 play 66 yard drive resulting in a 12 yard Bernard Pierce touchdown run. That second drive showed how the offense was newly dedicated to the run as they ran it ten times and passed it just twice and gave Baltimore a 14-0 lead.
Then came a nice mid-game nap, as Flacco and the offense went into a slumber that lasted until mid-way through the fourth quarter. Baltimore's offense had six straight three and outs and netted zero yards in the third quarter, but the defense came through in a big way. The Ravens 'D', although allowing Cleveland to move the ball down field almost at will and getting into the red zone five times, held their ground and forced five Browns field goals and zero touchdowns. The defense came through in a big way yesterday, as they held Cleveland to 290 total yards of offense with two sacks and two interceptions (Ed Reed and Cary Williams). The only downside was that they surrendered 105 rushing yards to Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson, but did not allow them to get into the endzone.
The Browns, after kicker Phil Dawson nailed his fifth field goal of the game, took a 15-14 lead with 8:48 left in the fourth quarter. The alarm clock then went off for the sleeping Ravens offense as on 2nd and ten, Flacco connected for 21 yards with Anquan Boldin to get their first first down of the second half. After a short gain, a roughing the passer penalty, and another short gain, Rice reeled off back-to-back 10 yard rushes to put Baltimore in the red zone and on 3rd and ten, Flacco and Torrey Smith hooked up for a 19 yard touchdown, that saw Smith do some nifty after the catch moves. The Ravens would add a two point conversion to take a 22-15 lead and the Baltimore defense held strong the rest of the way. Coach John Harbaugh knows how much of a hard fought victory that was as he stated:
"Whew, that was a fight. That's a really good football team. They are well coached, tough, and physical. They are building something here. They are an up-and-coming AFC North-style team. That was an AFC North battle."
Flacco completed his first ten passes for 100 yards, but would finish the day completing 15 of 24 pass attempts for 153 yards and a touchdown. Ray Rice had a nice day rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown, while Bernard Pierce added a rushing touchdown as well. Rice carried the ball 25 times, and the Ravens won, I do not believe that is pure coincidence. The biggest key stat of the day was the Ravens offense had zero turnovers, which is what you need to do on the road if you want to win, and Baltimore did that.
With the victory, the Ravens improve to 6-2 and remain atop the AFC North with a one game lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the loss drops the Browns to 2-7 on the season. Baltimore will return home in week 10 as they will host the Oakland Raiders in another game that Baltimore needs to come away with.
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