Ravens-Browns: Week Three Report Card
Ravens fans have never seen this before. Their team scored 34 points?...in one game?...all by the offense?
It can't be.
Let me tell you, brothers and sisters, it is undoubtedly true. The Ravens, God be praised, have an offense.
Long gone are the ways of Brian Billick and running it up the middle 18 times in a row before throwing it once.
Gone are the days when the Ravens couldn't run a screen to save their lives, much less stop one.
No ladies and gentlemen, the Ravens are better than ever, and though their 34-3 victory came against a struggling (to say the least) Cleveland Browns team, there is hope that this may last a bit longer.
Though I don't remember the exact outcome of the coin-toss, the Ravens kicked the opener away to the Browns offense. Soon after, every aspect of the game seemed to fall into their hands.
Brady Quinn, ever so kindly, decided to give the ball back to the Ravens via an interception by Domonique Foxworth, who then lateraled the ball to Ray Lewis, who then ran back to the 31-yard line.
Six plays later, Willis McGahee ran into the endzone, nearly untouched, from the seven-yard line. It was followed up nicely by a Steve Hauschka extra point, and all done before five minutes of game time had elapsed.
In the second quarter, the Ravens defense had little trouble forcing the Browns to give the ball back several times. The first offensive appearance in this quarter ended with the Ravens' second field goal of the day (Steve Hauschka for 33 yards) after a 16-play, 82-yard, seven-minute drive.
Baltimore once again forced a three-and-out by the Browns and then began an impressive 80-yard drive that was completed in under three minutes. This one, however, was capped off with another Willis McGahee touchdown from the 15-yard line.
The third quarter saw Derek Anderson replacing Brady Quinn as the Browns quarterback, but he had no better luck against a pumped up Baltimore defense. Never before had the Ravens "D" seen their hard work pay-off in the form of so many Ravens offensive scoring drives.
And while that must have been a nice feeling for the defense, they wanted to prove that they were still the stars of the show.
Brendon Ayanbadejo was the first to intercept Anderson. His run-back set up the Ravens first successful offensive drive of the half.
Only four plays later, Ray Rice got his first career rushing touchdown, untouched, into the endzone from nine yards out. However, special teams play and lacksadaisical defensive play allowed the Cleveland offense to move down the field and set up a field goal.
That simultaneously started the fourth quarter and ended the Ravens' hopes of a shutout.
However, giving up the field goal would be the only Browns score the Ravens would have to worry about.
On the next Browns possession, Anderson was intercepted a second time, this time by Dawan Landry. This turnover allowed Joe Flacco to throw a bomb pass to Derrick Mason, who made an amazing catch, followed by a quick cut-and-run into the endzone for the Ravens fourth touchdown of the game.
After that play, the Ravens second-string offense would play the rest of the game.
End Result: Ravens 34, Browns 3
The fact that the game was a blowout doesn't mean there is no room for improvement for Baltimore. The Ravens, though amazing this past week, need to seriously prepare for their upcoming battle in Foxborough against the Patriots.
First, let's talk about the offense.
Joe Flacco had his second career-day this season, throwing for 342 yards and a touchdown. However, he threw many of his passes too high and far too close to defenders.
If the Browns had even a half-decent defense, Flacco would have been picked-off at least once, if not more. He needs to keep throwing the short, super-fast passes up the middle to avoid a loss in New England.
Running backs Ray Rice, and particularly Willis McGahee, had a great day this past Sunday. McGahee looks to try and reclaim the No. 1 slot in the backfield (it was taken by Ray Rice in the off-season), and may just do it if he can have a repeat performance next week.
Some, if not most, of the credit for the running, however, should go to the offensive line. Their blocking, in particular that of Jared Gaither and Michael Oher, was impeccable.
For the first time in quite a while, I saw the wide receivers have an amazing day. Though there was only one passing touchdown, the receivers were everywhere and allowed Flacco to have a great game. Todd Heap has reemerged as a reliable receiver, and Kelly Washington is quite a pleasant surprise.
As for the defense, the line was, as always, amazing. Though I can't imagine any team's D-line looking bad against the Browns, Terrell Suggs finally had a decent day, as did Trevor Pryce.
The linebackers could still use a little work, as the Browns few completed passes were short and up the middle, and gains after catches were a little too long. Also, the Ravens secondary was looking much improved, getting three interceptions and stopping the deep threat.
Of course, again, let's not forget, they were playing the Browns.
Lastly, we should look at the special teams. Always a problem for Baltimore is covering kick and punt returns.
Though Joshua Cribbs didn't do as well as he normally does, he still gained far too many yards in my opinion. The Ravens also still seem to have trouble getting anything going in terms of returning the ball themselves. They also need to watch getting as many penalties as they did last week on special teams.
All-in-all, a great day for the Ravens and their many fans. It looks like, hopefully, the offense is here to stay. They will need to prepare long and hard for all their games between now and their Week Seven bye.
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