Skip to main content
Presented by

The Breakdown: Five Thoughts on Ravens Win Over Browns

RB Gus Edwards
RB Gus Edwards

The Ravens scored a 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 7 at M&T Bank Stadium.

At 4-3, the Ravens are still tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North.

Here are five thoughts on Sunday's win:

It was still scary, but the Ravens found a way to win.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. The Ravens built a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, then saw their opponent chip away.

When Justin Tucker drilled a 55-yard field goal to put Baltimore up 10 points with 11 minutes, 24 seconds left to go, the stage was set to see if the Ravens could close out a game. They talked about it all week after three losses in those circumstances this season.

On the ensuing drive, the Ravens defense gave up a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to narrow the lead to three. It was the offense's turn and it moved into scoring range before Justice Hill coughed up a fumble. I'm no mind reader, but it's probably a safe bet that everyone in M&T Bank Stadium and those watching at home were thinking the same thing: "Not again."

The Browns quickly moved back down the field and had a 34-yard touchdown to Amari Cooper that, for a split second, seemed to be yet another cruel punch to the gut. Except this time, a flag actually helped Baltimore, as offensive pass interference waived it off.

With new life, the Ravens closed it out behind a blocked field goal. Another penalty helped, backing the Browns up and making a 56-yard attempt even longer. Cade York's low kick drilled linebacker Malik Harrison in the face. Game over.

The Ravens offense, nor the defense, get full credit for closing out a win, but everyone (including the special teams unit) gets a piece of the reward. As Head Coach John Harbaugh said, it was a complete team win, and it was one that the Ravens had to have given the brutal losses they've already suffered. No matter who is playing, games against the Browns often seem to go this way and the Ravens are glad to be on the right side of it. They found a way to win, which was a missing element so far this season and one that will be a key ingredient to getting where they want to go.

Gus the Bus Makes an Immediate Difference

The Ravens have eased in their players returning from injuries this year. The parking brake was off with Gus "The Bus" Edwards, however. The Ravens put the ball in Edwards' gut the first three plays of the game and he rewarded them with three rumbles and a first down. It was all downhill from there – and that's a compliment to Edwards' running style. The Ravens' ground game has been good lately, but after watching Edwards run Sunday, it became evident that they were missing his physicality.

In his first game back from last year's brutal knee injury, Edwards finished with 66 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens called his number in several critical short-yardage situations they had struggled with this season, including a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line when he plowed through a pile of bodies to cross the goal line.

With the way the Ravens offensive line is run blocking right now, having a bulldozer that can get what they give him, plus carry tacklers for a couple extra yards, can do a lot of damage. It stinks to lose J.K. Dobbins for an extended stretch, but the inside-out game of Edwards-Kenyan Drake-Justice Hill, and of course Lamar Jackson, is going to be tough to stop. With the passing game not humming Sunday, the Ravens felt confident enough in their ground game to go in that direction, and it got the job done.

Pass Rush Gets Cranked Up, With More Coming

It was a day of warm welcome backs, as the Ravens also had a merry return from veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston, who missed the past three games because of a groin injury. Houston had back-to-back sacks on the Browns' final drive of the first half that short-circuited a drive that could have been a momentum builder for them.

The Ravens had a season-high five sacks on the day, as Patrick Queen, Calais Campbell and rookie Kyle Hamilton also got in on the action. It was the first sack of Hamilton's football career (he didn't have any in college either). It was career No. 96.5 for Campbell, who also forced a fumble in the second half. The Ravens scored a touchdown on the resulting drive. Queen, who had three tackles for loss, has been playing some of his best football of late.

Baltimore had four sacks against the Giants last week, led by the defensive line. This week, Houston's edge pressure led the way for five sacks. There's more good news too with more pass rushers on the way with Tyus Bowser and rookie David Ojabo not far off from returning from their Achilles injuries. They're both entering their third week of practice. The Ravens aren't creating quite as much turmoil on the back end without Marcus Williams, but they're getting more of it up front.

Greg Roman goes into the vault, but Ravens need more counter punches to Mark Andrews.

The strangest stat line of the day had to be zero catches for tight end Mark Andrews. That hasn't happened since his rookie year in 2018. Andrews was targeted just twice as the Browns used a variety of tactics to try to take away Jackson's top receiver.

That's certainly nothing new, as every opponent knows who Jackson likes to throw to most. Most of the time, the opponents' tactics don't work. On Sunday, it did. When that happens, the Ravens need other solutions. They did in spurts, as Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman both made clutch catches during Sunday's game. Duvernay caught a 31-yarder on the Ravens' opening drive and had two receptions for 42 yards. Bateman converted a key third-and-11 and also finished with 42 yards (four grabs). But overall, the Ravens' passing game never got on a roll as Jackson was often left scrambling trying to find answers.

Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman went into the vault for a trick play on an Andrews-Jackson toss to convert a key fourth-down near midfield. Andrews cracked the box score with a 4-yard run to move the chains on another third down. Roman even dialed up a fullback screen that worked, though it was negated by a penalty. The Ravens had to get creative with Andrews held in check (on National Tight Ends Day of all days). As good as Andrews is, that will happen again. When he was held to just two grabs for 15 yards against the Bills in Week 4, the Ravens lost. This time, the Ravens' ground game churned out a win, but Baltimore needs more counter punches when Andrews is taken away.

Extra Points

  • The Ravens' special teams unit may have been the best of the three today. In addition to the blocked field goal, Baltimore's special teams flipped the momentum early in the game, with an assist from the Browns. A silly challenge to try to pick up 7 yards of field position backfired on the Browns after Jordan Stout bombed a 69-yard punt that got everyone fired up. After a three-and-out, Duvernay ripped off a 46-yard punt return to put the Ravens in scoring range. Stout finished with three punts for 181 yards (60.3-yard average). It was a breakout day for the rookie.
  • Multiple Browns players grumbled after the game about calls that didn't go their way. The Ravens have been in that headspace after several games this season, but the calls went their way this time. The refs wisely picked up the flag on a roughing the passer penalty on Odafe Oweh. They correctly called Amari Cooper for the offensive pass interference on the Browns' final drive. The refs also caught a subtle but confirmed false start before the blocked field goal. That key penalty backed them up and made Cade York's line drive kick have an even lower trajectory from 60 yards out.
  • Red-zone troubles popped up again early, as two of the Ravens' first three offensive drives stalled inside the 20-yard line and they had to settle for Justin Tucker field goals. Coming off the Giants loss, this had to test the Ravens' mindset of relaxing in the red zone they talked about entering the week. The next two times Baltimore got into the red zone, it scored touchdowns.
  • Both of John Harbaugh's fourth-down decisions to go for it paid off. It was only a matter of time before those decisions paid off. They had practiced that Andrews-Jackson pitch play for about a month, Harbaugh said. Getting Edwards back is also critical for converting in short-yardage situations because he's hardly ever stopped for no gain.
  • After banging a field goal off the uprights last week against the Giants, Tucker's 55-yard field goal should not be overlooked. That was a huge kick to give the Ravens a 10-point lead and proved to be the difference.
  • Jackson didn't put up big stats with 120 passing yards and no touchdowns through the air on just 16 attempts. But he also didn't turn the ball over, and he made some critical plays as part of his 59 rushing yards. "You can win a game as a quarterback a lot of different ways than just throwing the ball around," Harbaugh said.
  • Harbaugh made a point to give Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald kudos after the game for his play calling. The Browns are tough to three-and-out with Nick Chubb rolling, and he had a strong day with 91 rushing yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. After Cleveland marched down the field for a touchdown on the first drive of the game, it looked like it could be a long day. But Baltimore tightened up and Macdonald called some timely blitzes.
  • This isn't the first time the Ravens beat the Browns on a blocked field goal. Who could forget Will Hill's kick-six at a time like this?

Related Content