What a boring game on Sunday between the Ravens and the Cleveland Browns. I know my boss, Glenn Clark, said that he forgot most of details of Sunday’s game an hour after the fourth quarter ended on the way back to Baltimore. But nevertheless, the Ravens won 20-10 and guaranteed themselves a playoff spot for the third straight year-the first time the team has achieved that feat in franchise history.
Rex and I sat down on “The Afternoon Drive” Monday on the “Purple Post-Game Show” to rate the Ravens, and in honor of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner announcing his engagement to 24-year old Playboy Playmate Crystal Harris, we decided to “Rate the Ravens” this week based on Playmates, with five being the highest and one being the lowest. Because more is better right?
Joe Flacco only completed 12-of-19 passes for only 102 yards, and had two touchdown passes-one to Derrick Mason and the other to T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the back of the end zone. The passing yards may not be outstanding, but Flacco did enough to win and played relatively mistake-free. He did throw a floater that Browns cornerback Joe Haden picked off, but Haden has been playing at a very high level this year. Flacco also made several plays with his feet to make a play despite something not being open downfield.
Ryan’s Rating: 3.5/5
It was hard for Ray Rice to one-up his performance from last week against the Saints where he topped 200 yards of total offense, but the Ravens showed Sunday that they were determined still to manage the clock by still having a good dose of Ray Rice on the ground. Rice finished with 92 yards on 25 carries, but he never broke the huge run that sparked a Ravens scoring drive. Fullback Le’Ron McClain also carried the ball twice for 19 yards and Willis McGahee also provided solid supplementary support. No touchdowns for any of them though, and I think the injury to tight end Dennis Pitta early on in Sunday’s game stopped the Ravens from running their favorite formation to run out of-the two tight-end set.
Ryan’s Ratings: 3.5
Rex’s Rating: 3
The stats weren’t mind-blowing here, much like Flacco, but Derrick Mason continued his track record of making plays against the Cleveland Browns by grabbing a touchdown in front of Cleveland’s Sheldon Brown. After the Browns failed to convert on an onside-kick to open the second half, the Ravens had the benefit of a short field and made the most of the opportunity, as Flacco found Mason for the final score of the game, 20-10. Mason finished with 4 catches for 40 yards, and Houshmadzadeh’s score was also just as impressive. Dissapointing still is the loss of TE Todd Heap and the play of his replacement, Ed Dickson, who had no catches for 0 yards and just one target on Sunday.
Ryan’s Rating: 3/5
Flacco was only sacked once by the Browns, and that came on a corner blitz by Joe Haden. On several occasions, Flacco had several seconds to make a throw and either did or escaped out of the pocket and made a play with his legs (3 rushes, 16 yards). The holes were there in the running lanes for the backs to make; it was just on the part of Ray Rice or Willis McGahee to make a cut and they could have made a bigger play. But there is a silver lining in all of this…no penalties for Michael Oher!
The Ravens didn’t sack Colt McCoy once but rushed him on several occasions from the likes of Cory Redding, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs. Those pressures led to the three McCoy interceptions, and the biggest stop of the day by this unit was holding running back Peyton Hillis to just 35 yards on 12 carries(2.9 YPC). Overall, as a team the Browns only averaged 3.9 yards per carry as a team, and the trio of Redding, Ngata, and Gregg combined for eight solo tackles.
Ryan’s Rating: 4/5
Ray Lewis said in the week leading up to Sunday’s game against the Browns that “even a blind cat finds a meal”. I always thought the quote was “even a blind squirrel finds a nut eventually”, but who’s going to tell Ray Lewis that? Certainly not me. Hillis of course had his breakthrough game against the Ravens in their previous matchup, gaining 144 yards on just 22 carries. Well, we thought Ray was opening his mouth a bit too early but Ray and the unit put their money where their mouth was and stopped Hillis, holding him to 35 yards and got physical with him.
They also did a good job of controlling the intermediate to short passing game that McCoy is great at. Jameel McClain led all Ravens with seven tackles, and Dannell Ellerbe and Jarret Johnson both were forces on the inside and outside of the Browns offensive line.
By far, the best Ravens unit of the day. The Ravens picked off Colt McCoy three times on Sunday-two coming from safety Ed Reed. McCoy appeared to be throwing the ball to a spot instead of leading the receiver, and Reed appeared to position himself in just the right spot. McCoy admitted afterwards that he being a rookie failed to realize that he should always know where a ball-hawking safety like Ed Reed should have been at all times. Lardarius Webb on his first quarter interception on the seventh-play of the game appeared to be the receiver instead of Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
And despite the touchdown allowed by Chris Carr on the trick play from Massaquoi to Brian Robiskie, Carr bounced back with a play later in the second quarter when he forced Massaquoi to fumble on the ball after catching a ball on a curl route. The ball bounced to the turf and took a Raven roll inbounds into the arms of Jameel McClain.
Nothing special here. The coverage team did do a great job containing return man Josh Cribbs, and while Billy Cundiff did connect on field goals of 27 and 40 yards with the wind blowing; he only had one touchback out of five attempts. Sam Koch averaged 45.7 yards per punt on three attempts and had one downed inside the Cleveland 20. The loss of David Reed was evident on kick returns as Jalen Parmele did just enough to move the ball up the field.
Ryan’s Rating: 4/5
Rex’s Rating: 3/5
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