Ray Rice's hard running was the key to the Ravens victory.
Anytime a victory is achieved on the road against a divisional opponent, it is worth celebrating.
The Baltimore Ravens win over the hapless Cleveland Browns falls under this scenario but with an asterisk. Coming off a bye, most would expect many of the flaws seen so far this season to be fixed or close to fixed, but this does not seem to be the case.
After the first quarter, the Ravens offense seemed to go cold until Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith connected for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Although the defense kept the Browns out of the end zone, they still allowed kicker Phil Dawson to kick five easy field goals. One has to wonder what a more established offense would do against this very "Un-Raven like" defense.
The Ravens were the victors and sit atop the AFC North standings. But this game featured winners and losers.
Perhaps Ray Rice's role will continue to increase.
Most fans and observers have been screaming for Ray Rice to get the ball more, and one has to wonder why the Rutgers product has not been doing the same.
The Ravens offense has been dismal on the road. They started slow and have been ineffective.
Luckily Cam Cameron remembered he has one of the best backs in the NFL and called his number early and often.
The result? Ray Rice had 25 carries for 98 yards and one score. He also had two catches for six yards. It was not his best statistical line, but it was effective. When Rice touches the ball good things happen.
Rice made big gains on the ground before the Browns caught on to what appeared to be a vanilla scheme and repetitive play calling. The Browns defensive line also started winning the battles in the trenches.
Nonetheless Rice had a big day, and the run set up some big pass plays to ultimately win the game.
Pierce's increased role in the offense resulted in his first career touchdown.
It was a good day for Ravens running backs as rookie Bernard Pierce had an increased role in the offense.
Pierce had seven carries for 26 yards, and his first career touchdown put the Ravens ahead 14-0 at the time.
The rookie out of Temple seems to get a little better every week and should prove to be important down the stretch as the weather gets colder, and the post season nears.
Justin Tucker continues to make people forget that he is a rookie.
Justin Tucker put the game out of reach with his 43-yard field goal try. He was also a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal tries. Tucker is 15-of-16 in field goals on the season.
Tucker's booming kickoffs and excellent coverage kept one of football's best returners, Josh Cribbs, in check.
Punter Sam Koch was solid as usual.
Harbaugh has had plenty of success in Cleveland.
John Harbaugh improved his record to 10-0 against the Cleveland Browns, and the Ravens are 5-0 after a bye under Coach Harbaugh.
The victory brings the Ravens record to 6-2, and they remain in sole possession of first place in the AFC North. Luckily for the Ravens, victories are not based on style points.
Haloti Ngata was held without a tackle.
Haloti Ngata is one of the best defensive tackles in football. One has to wonder how many injuries are weighing the big fella down.
Ngata was part of the defensive front who allowed rookie running back Trent Richardson to rush for 105 yards. Ngata was held without a tackle and—with exception of possibly taking up blockers—seemed to make little to no impact in this game.
Is it time to worry?
Cam Cameron's offense is still sputtering.
Although there were some mild improvements, the Ravens offense just seems to be completely different on the road. Cameron deserves some credit in calling Ray Rice's number early and often, but after the first two scores, the offense went ice cold.
After scoring on the first two possessions, the Ravens went six straight possessions of going three-and-out. The offense finally got on a roll and scored the game-winning touchdown after falling behind for the first and only time.
It seemed like the Browns made adjustments on defense, but the Ravens made few—if any—on offense. They had enough offense to beat the Browns on the road but what happens when they go to Pittsburgh or New York?
"A win's a win."
It was not pretty, but as the saying goes, "A win's a win."
It could have been a lot worse.
The defense bent but did not break, and the offense came up with a score when the game was in doubt. A win on the road against a divisional opponent is always a welcomed outcome.