Ravens Eye View: How the Ravens Cracked Cleveland's No. 1 Defense

QB Lamar Jackson

The Ravens scored four touchdowns against a Browns defense that had given up just one in its previous three games.

Here's how the Ravens cracked Cleveland's top-ranked defense:

First-year Browns Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz is known for his attacking style, using his defensive ends split out wide and crashing the linebackers down to try to disrupt the offense early in the down. He even called his shot last week when talking about his plan to defend Lamar Jackson.

"We're going try to take the fight to him as opposed to sitting back and trying to hem him in," Schwartz said.

Head Coach John Harbaugh described the Browns' defense as an "all-out blitzkrieg to start the play."

"They're very good players – inside and on the edge, and the linebackers are downhill hitting gaps," Harbaugh said. "So, you have to stop the penetration, and you have to get off those blocks and get those linebackers before they get in your backfield and make a play."

The Ravens used the Browns' aggressiveness against them, often with motion (usually Zay Flowers) that made Cleveland overreact and opened up gaps. The motion helped keep those defensive ends wide.

Sometimes Lamar Jackson stepped up and through those gaps in the rush to complete passes. Mostly, Baltimore's offense turned around a slow start by getting the ground game going.

Jackson's 10-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was a great example of Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken's use of motion and misdirection.

The Ravens' run blocking (mostly gap-scheme) was superb, once again taking advantage of the Browns' aggressiveness and using motions to leave some edge defenders unblocked (and frozen) while getting double teams and blockers to the second level on the other side. Running backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill also played their best games yet.

Jackson played one of his best career games, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for two for the first time in his career. He completed 79% of his passes (15-of-19).

Jackson's first touchdown pass to tight end Mark Andrews at the end of the first half was the second-most improbable touchdown pass of his NFL career with just a 17% completion probability, per Next Gen Stats.

"That's as good a throw that you're ever going to see in a football game from a quarterback," Harbaugh said Monday.

While the Browns are aggressive up front, they played mostly zone on the back end (48.1%). Jackson carved it up, posting a perfect passer rating against zone coverage: 12-of-13 for 172 yards and two touchdowns, per Next Gen Stats. He made several spectacular throws in addition to the 7-yard touchdown to Andrews.

The Ravens were still without left tackle Ronnie Stanley, but enjoyed the return of center Tyler Linderbaum, who had one of the more creative blocks you'll see on Baltimore's second touchdown.

Defensively, the Ravens smothered and battered rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen dominated once again. The Ravens sacked Thompson-Robinson four times and hit him eight.

The Ravens had one of the Browns' more unique plays, a jet sweep with Elijah Moore while inside the red-zone, totally sniffed out.

For as well as the Ravens defense played, there were also several near misses. Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney now ranks ninth in the NFL with 19 pressures, but he could have had multiple sacks against his former team. Still, his pressures still had a great impact, including one that helped cause Geno Stone's interception and another that led to a fumble.

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