Quarterback Jason Campbell remained cool, calm and collected as he led the offense to three touchdowns and did not turn the ball over.
Cleveland's defense finally remained aggressive for a full 60 minutes. The Ravens' running attack never got started and Joe Flacco was consistently kept off-balance in the pocket.
The Browns now hold sole possession of second place in the AFC North as they head into their bye week.
|Cleveland Browns Grades|
|Positional Unit||First Half Grade||Final Grade|
|Week 9 vs. Ravens|
Final Analysis for the Cleveland Browns
Pass Offense: Jason Campbell tied his career high for touchdowns with three today. His efficiency was refreshing as he found eight different receivers and earned a quarterback rating of 116.6. The Ravens tightened up the defense in the second half, but Campbell came up huge on a 4th-and-1 with under three minutes left in the game on a completion to Davone Bess.
Greg Little and Bess both reached personal milestones this afternoon. Little caught the most balls in a single game at seven and Bess had his first multiple-touchdown game. Chris Ogbonnaya came up with a pair of clutch receptions on Cleveland’s final offensive series, and kept the clock-eating series alive.
Run Offense: Willis McGahee put in a good performance, however, he just doesn’t have the explosiveness to do anything significant on the ground. It would have been nice to see Fozzy Whittaker get more touches. On two carries Whittaker collected 11 yards. The rushing strategy was used enough to force Baltimore to respect the play action.
Pass Defense: The defense bent, but did not break during the Ravens’ four-minute opening drive in the second half, which ended in a punt. Joe Flacco was forced out of the pocket all day, and while he was uncomfortable, he was still able to make plays with his legs as well as convert first downs. He was sacked a total of five times.
Cleveland’s third-down efficiency improved, but still has a ways to go as they allowed Baltimore to move the chains on seven out of 16 occasions.
Run Defense: The run was an absolute non-factor for Baltimore today. The front seven provided tremendous coverage and gave no room to Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce. Only 30 yards were given up on the ground if you take Flacco’s scrambles out of the equation.
Special Teams: A massive third-quarter muffed punt by Baltimore was recovered by Eric Martin and gave Cleveland excellent field position that ended with a touchdown pass to Gary Barnidge.
To start the final frame, Cleveland’s punt coverage unit gave Tandon Doss some space and he took it back for 30 yards into the home team’s territory.
Coaching: The Browns faked a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, as Billy Cundiff punted the ball. A Cleveland player could not down the ball before the end zone and it rolled in for a touchback. Overall, there was a solid blend of creativity and safe play-calling by the coaching staff today.
First-Half Analysis for the Cleveland Browns
Pass Offense: Following a quick three-and-out series, quarterback Jason Campbell got on track. On that drive Greg Little made a spectacular catch in double coverage, and on fourth down at the 1-yard line, the much maligned Davone Bess squeezed it in for a touchdown.
Jason Campbell was shaken up near the end of the first frame and Brandon Weeden was welcomed with a chorus of boos and was his usual ineffective self. Luckily for Browns fans, Campbell’s rib injury was minor and only kept him out for one offensive series.
Little made several excellent catches in the half, but was penalized for a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Bess’ confidence is back in spades, though, as evidenced by his two receptions for two scores.
Run Offense: The Browns consistently went to the ground on each set of downs, which gave legitimacy to the play action during the opening quarter’s touchdown drive. Once Weeden was inserted for the shaken-up Campbell, the running game got a little creative with a 10-yard end-around by Josh Gordon.
With under eight minutes remaining in the half, Willis McGahee fumbled the football and gave Baltimore the ball at Cleveland’s 40-yard line. The defense held strong and gave up no points following the turnover.
McGahee got the bulk of the work with nine carries, and Fozzy Whittaker got a pair of touches. The big gains did not come, but 14 total carries from five different players was good to see and kept the offense varied.
Pass Defense: Cleveland’s defense kept the momentum going from the second half of last Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. Fantastic coverage in the secondary gave the front seven time to pressure Joe Flacco. The Super Bowl MVP was sacked three times and forced to scramble for his life on several occasions.
A late second-quarter interception by Joe Haden seemed that it would cap off a forgettable 30 minutes for Flacco. However, a 46-yard heave to Torrey Smith set up a touchdown toss to Marlon Brown and kept the Ravens within striking distance.
Run Defense: Ray Rice may have had the bye week to recover, but he was held in check during the first half. The veteran running back averaged just 1.8 yards per carry for a total of 11 yards. Swapping in Bernard Pierce for the odd carry did nothing.
Special Teams: There were no muffed return attempts on kickoffs or punts for Cleveland, so that’s a bonus.
Coaching: Head coach Rob Chudzinski’s bold calls continued as he went for it on 4th-and-goal and was rewarded with a Davone Bess touchdown. Some razzle dazzle on an end-around by Josh Gordon mixed up the straight ahead rushing attack.
Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist.
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyMc81