4 Reasons Why The Ravens Beat The Browns
By Josh Aronson
The Baltimore Ravens used a strong second half to get past the division rival Cleveland Browns, winning 14-6 Sunday. In the fist half, the Ravens’ offense looked sloppy; they didn’t convert on third downs and even had two missed field goals from kicker Justin Tucker.
The Browns led at halftime 6-0, but it could’ve been worse. The Ravens defense stepped up on the opening series and held Weeden and company out of the end zone despite the Browns having a first-and-goal from the seven-yard line.
The second half was a different story.
The Ravens defense shut the door and allowed zero points while QB Joe Flacco got into a rhythm and led the Ravens down the field for two touchdowns. RB Ray Rice went down with a strained hip flexor but backup Bernard Pierce came in and carried the load in Rice’s absence.
This article will take a look at the four biggest takeaways from the Ravens first win of the season.
4) CB Jimmy Smith
Smith had arguably his best game as a Raven Sunday against the Browns. He was all over the field making plays and breaking up passes. Smith looked confident in press coverage at the line of scrimmage and was attacking receivers.
With CB Lardarius Webb returning this year from a torn ACL, teams will be targeting Smith frequently. Against Denver, Smith got beat for a touchdown and didn’t look great. However Sunday was a complete 180.
Smith has the talent to be a great corner for the Ravens, but he gets beat on double moves too easily, and is tentative out of his breaks. When Smith plays relaxed and trusts his coaching the Ravens have two great corners. If Smith can play at this high level for the rest of the season, the Ravens will thrive defensively.
3) WR Chemistry
The biggest question mark heading into the Ravens’ season was how they were going to replace WR Anquan Boldin and TE Dennis Pitta. In Denver in Week 1, those questions loomed even larger. But against the Browns the Ravens seemed to have answered them. Undrafted free agent WR Marlon Brown has stepped up in the number two receiving role with Jacoby Jones sidelined.
Brown has scored a touchdown in both games so far this season and looks to be building solid chemistry with QB Joe Flacco. While Torrey Smith is still the go-to receiver (targeted 13 time against the Browns) Marlon Brown has been a pleasant surprise through two games.
WR Brandon Stokley also made huge plays this week with four catches for 36 yards and picking up some key first downs. As the season goes on, the chemistry between Flacco and the receiver corps will only get better. The second half Sunday was a great example of what it can look like.
2) The Defensive Line
The Ravens have the best defensive line in the NFL and it showed Sunday. Everyone got in on the action: LB Terrell Suggs, LB Elvis Dumervil and DE Arthur Jones all had sacks, while LB Daryl Smith led the team with one and a half sacks.
As a team, the Ravens had 12 quarterback hits and were able to get pressure throughout the game on QB Brandon Weeden. The defense was also able to hold RB Trent Richardson to just 58 yards rushing on 18 carries.
The combination of Suggs and Dumervil has panned out nicely so far for the Ravens. They each have recorded a sack in the first two games, and are making their presence felt on all passing plays. Weeden rarely had a clean pocket and was forced to either rush his passes or scramble. The D line will carry the Ravens defense this year, and could end up with upwards of 60 sacks.
1) RB Bernard Pierce
Bernard Pierce proved that he is capable of being a starting running back on almost any team. When Ray Rice went down early in the fourth quarter, Peirce took over and was able to seal the win for the Ravens down the stretch.
Peirce scored his first touchdown of the season in the third quarter to give the Ravens their first lead of the game, 7-6. He is a great change-of-pace back for the Ravens because of his powerful running style compared to Rice who is much shiftier.
If Rice is unable to play Sunday against the Texans (all signs point to him playing) John Harbaugh has complete confidence in Pierce to carry the load. Look for Pierce to end the year as the best backup in the NFL and be splitting carries 45-55 with Ray Rice.