Up until Wednesday of last week, I thought there was a (small) possibility the Browns could win in Baltimore. After all, in the NFL every team has a chance every week. But the more I looked at the Ravens' offensive and defensive weapons, and the more I looked at the Browns lack of weapons, I realized that was insane. No way would Cleveland go into M&T Bank Stadium and even score more than 10 points. It just wasn't happening. So, my prediction was 27-6 (with the Browns' score coming from two field goals). I was close, but I gave Cleveland three too many points and not enough to the Ravens. Final score: 34-3 Baltimore.
The first quarter wasn't horrible. I don't know if I just have very low expectations for the Browns and any sign of hope is encouraging, but there were some decent plays early in the game. Josh Cribbs started off the game with a 29-yard return, and both Braylon Edwards and Brady Quinn had nice dives to keep the drive going. Then it started to go downhill only three minutes into the game when cornerback Dominique Foxworth intercepted Quinn, setting up the Ravens first drive of the game.
It took two minutes for Baltimore to score on a 7-yard rushing touchdown from running back Willis McGahee. Baltimore 7, Cleveland O.
The Ravens were able to score on their next possession as second-year quarterback Joe Flacco continues to prove that last year was not a fluke—he has the potential to be an elite quarterback in the league. He's able to buy himself time so he can find that open receiver—something that Quinn needs to learn.
With 1:16 left in the first, Baltimore scores a field goal, bringing the score to 10-0. At this point, though, the Browns could have still been in the game. A decent team would have had a shot.
Unfortunately, Cleveland's not even a decent team.
Nice blocking by the Browns' offensive line in the first drive of the second quarter. Why, though, is Cleveland going for a quarterback sneak? Running back Jerome Harrison looks decent...at this point I really was giving the Browns a chance to catch up. It was a good drive to start the second...well, until that bad throw by Quinn (thrown in the general area of Cribbs). What a wasted opportunity.
Ravens take over with 13:15 left in the half. Browns miss what could have been an interception. You have to make those plays. Instead, the Ravens quickly move on, ending up with another field goal (33 yards), bringing the score to 13-0.
Five minutes left in the half, Browns offense back on the field. Great pressure from Baltimore. Interesting fact from announcers Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker—last week, the Ravens gave up 474 yards to San Diego, but the offense had 311 yards in the victory. Coach John Harbaugh said he "expects the defense to give up more yards [than the offense has] as the offense gets better."
There's 3:44 left in the half. Fourth-and-1, Browns down 13-0. For a second announcing team thinks they're going for it..."Fourth down and 1—Let's see if the Browns...and they snap it." Nice. Way to not take chances.
Ravens offense back on the field. Nice throw to Derrick Mason who is defended by...no one. Where is the Browns defense? Did they leave? Are they already at the "Welcome to Cleveland" party that was scheduled that night for Shaq? The pass (of course) led to another score by Baltimore—this time a 15-yard rushing touchdown from McGahee (when he pretty much walked into the endzones—never touched).
With 2:31 left in the half, the Ravens led 20-0. Looking at Baltimore's offensive production in the first half: six plays, 31 yards, ends with touchdown; 12 plays, 68 yards, ends with field goal; 16 plays, 92 yards, ends with field goal; eight plays, 80 yards, ends with touchdown.
It's clear that the Ravens have a ton of more talent than the Browns, but this game was still ridiculous. I watched parts of it during the day, then rewatched it last night. It was just unbelievable. Cleveland fans deserve better than this. The NFL deserves better than this.
Back to the game...Ravens punt for the first time in the game. Browns offense back on the field—and now Derek Anderson is in the game. Quinn was 6-for-8, 34 yards, 1 INT. Do you think Quinn knew about this? (Only minutes before this happened, I read on Twitter from SportsTalk Cleveland there were rumors that Brady was on a very short leash.) What does this do to Quinn? How is this sticking with a quarterback? You give the guy the job at the very end of preseason, then take him out after only two and a half games. Really?
The first drive started okay...handoff to running back Jerome Harrsion, short pass to Harrison...then somehow it's 3rd-and-7. Interception. Nice. This leads to running back Ray Rice's 9-yard touchdown with 7:40 left in the third. Helpful stat shown at this point: plays in opponent's territory: three for Cleveland, 27 for Baltimore.
Anderson-led offense back on the field...good pass to wide receiver Mike Furrey...nice 11-yard pass to Edwards on 3rd-and-4th. First down! Honestly, at this point I'm thinking, maybe they can score a touchdown. Thirty seconds left...unbelievable, Anderson falls down, twice. Instead of a touchdown, Cleveland ends up with a field goal. Down 27-0 and they go for a field goal. Really?
Finally, the fourth quarter. At this point, while rewatching it, I'm fast-forwarding through a lot. It's too awful to watch. 8:37 left in the game, announcers compliment Anderson, who responds by throwing into triple coverage to Edwards, and is picked off by Dawan Landry. Ravens offense follows that with a 72-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason. 34-3.
Ravens second string comes into the game. What a lame effort from the Browns. Probably the worst NFL game I've ever watched.
This was posted on my personal blog (andreacole.blogspot.com). You also can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/AndreaCole.