Coming into tonight’s game it would’ve been no surprise to see a team like the Cleveland Browns struggle to put points on the board, seeing as they’ve only managed to score 78 points on the year so far, enough for last in the league. However that the Ravens also looked uncomfortable offensively was a bit of a surprise, as they are the 13th best rushing and 11th best passing team in the league. They’ve also scored 206 points so far on the year.
Going off as 11 point favourites in this matchup I thought I’d be seeing a little more offense that what I’ve seen tonight. In fact tonight is the 620th edition of Monday Night Football, and only the ninth time that the first half has ended in a scoreless tie. It’s also the first time it has happened in any game this year.
There was very little to get excited about besides seeing Browns’ QB Brady Quinn get another chance to play for the team he grew up loving again. A Cleveland native, Quinn had been relegated to the bench in Cleveland’s last five games. For a player who’s supposed to be the future at the position, he had only started five games in his career before getting benched. Derek Anderson did not prove to be the answer and it was nice to see Quinn get a warm reception from the fans when he took the field tonight.
That being said he still has a far ways to go, as a 6/12 for 63 yard first half still leaves much to be desired. In contrast his counterpart, Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco, typically a decent QB, didn’t fair much better going 8/12 for only 92 yards himself.
Overall the first half was by far the least entertaining game of Week 10, as the most exciting moment came from a missed 36 yard field goal by the Ravens. Between them both teams combined for eight punts and only 237 yards of total offense. Despite being a far superior team and owning a much stronger offense the Ravens also looked completely disorganized at times on offense. First they challenged a fairly obvious call which they ended up losing and lost a timeout. Then they were forced to burn both of their final two time outs of the half before the game was seven minutes old, and two penalties for having 12 men on the field interrupted a couple of their drives as well.
The first half was the lowest scoring game of the year which meant many half time adjustments would be made and hopefully a few more points over the next 30 minutes.
Though both teams struggled in the first half, the Ravens wasted little time to begin the third quarter to take advantage of whichever half time adjustments John Harbaugh chose to make.
After an early three and out by the Browns to begin the half the Ravens offence came to life with a 41 yard completion from Joe Flacco to Derek Mason. Ray Rice would punch it in on the following play for the game’s first score and a 7-0 Ravens lead. Though unspectacular, Brady Quinn wasn’t terrible in the first half. The second half was a different story as on the very next play Quinn threw a 48 yard pick six to Ravens’ SS Dawan Landry to give Baltimore a commanding 13-0 lead early in the second half. Overall in roughly a five-minute span the Ravens scored 16 points, which proved to be enough for the victory.
For as many growing pains as Brady Quinn showed, the loss can’t be placed solely on his shoulders. Make no mistake, he has plenty of room to grow, but the kid hasn’t played in five weeks. By the end of the game he completed only 13 of his 31 passes for 99 yards, and tacked on two INTS. In addition to him being very young at the position, the Browns just don’t have the playmakers around him to help out. On one of Quinn’s interceptions, though the ball wasn’t thrown perfectly, Mike Furrey allowed it to bounce right off his hands and into the hands of a Ravens defender. Those kinds of plays just can’t happen when you are a team like the Cleveland Browns and need all the breaks you can get.
Even though Baltimore won, shut out and covered the spread tonight, I think they need to be slightly concerned. This is a quick look into some of the more dismal stats the Browns’ own. In their last 15 games they have scored only 5 offensive TDs over 60 quarters of play, and near the midway point of the fourth quarter tonight they had run 55 plays, and 50 of them were from their own end. When things were all said and done the farthest Cleveland ever made it down the field was to the Baltimore 45 and at one point near the end of the game they were only averaging 2.5 yards per play. One player you can’t help but feel a bit sorry for is NT Shaun Rogers who despite being a pretty solid player at his position, owns a 33-89 record in games he’s played in; those losses only look to swell the longer he stays in Cleveland. My point being is that despite all of this and having strong field position all night, Baltimore only managed 10 offensive points and three came off a Browns’ turnover. For a team not short on motivation to keep pace in their division, I’m troubled by their performance tonight.
The Browns clearly have a long road to becoming a respectable team in this league and I’m not really sure what they can do to get there. There seems to be problems on every side of the ball and fans are starting to show their displeasure. Some of the more humourous signs being hung around Paul Brown stadium tonight included: “Gruden we’re hiring,” “Rebuilding since 1964,” “At least one Ohio team can beat Pittsburgh,” and “Go Cavs,” all signs either supporting other local teams or poking fun at the ineptitude that is the Browns. To make matters worse, RB Jamal Lewis has stated he will retire after this year and even recently called out Coach Eric Mangini saying practices are too long. There seems to be unrest all over the place, but I have one comment for Mr. Lewis. Jamal, I know you’re about to close the door on what’s been a fairly illustrious career, and ending it on this kind of a low would be hard to handle for anyone. But when your team is 1-8 and has no sense of direction, I think two hour practices may not be long enough.