The Breakdown: Eisenberg's Five Thoughts At Browns


Five thoughts on the Ravens' 23-21 win to the Cleveland Browns Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium:

Smart Decision To Take Tucker Over Cundiff
One of the better decisions the Ravens have made was going with Justin Tucker as their kicker instead of Billy Cundiff after the two dueled for a job in training camp in 2012. Cundiff has bounced back, gotten another job in Cleveland and performed well. He was 4-for-4 in the Browns' first two games of 2014. But he missed two crucial field goals down the stretch Sunday. The first was a 50-yarder that doinked off the left upright. It had plenty of distance, but Cundiff has not consistently made 50-yarders for several years. His second late miss was a 36-yarder that the Ravens' Asa Jackson blocked. "I think Billy kicked it a little low," Jackson said. Meanwhile, Tucker drilled two field goals in the fourth quarter, including a 32-yard game-winner as time expired. Tucker was the best kicker in the NFL in 2013, and this was the seventh game-winner of his young career. Sunday's game was an entertaining, back-and-forth affair with all sorts of twists and turns, any one of which could have determined the outcome. In the end, the kicks that did, and didn't, generate points were the difference.

Harbaugh Wins Big With Gamble On Defense
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said after the game that it wasn't hard for him to give up possession with under three minutes to play and the Ravens down by four points. His rationale: his offense was in a fourth-and-16 situation, and he had two timeouts left. But in letting Sam Koch punt the ball away near midfield, he put the game in the hands of his defense. I know my eyebrows went up. The Browns offense had moved well all afternoon, and now, all it needed was to generate one first down to seal the win. But if it was a gamble to punt, and I think it was, Harbaugh won big. Koch's punt pinned the Browns inside their 10. When they got to third-and-7, quarterback Brian Hoyer, sharp all day, pressed and threw an incompletion. The Ravens defense had gotten the ball back for quarterback Joe Flacco, who promptly moved his offense into position for Tucker's winning kick, mainly with a deep completion to Steve Smith Sr. Give the offense credit, but give the defense a big assist. After getting pushed around all day, it ended the game by denying the Browns on three straight third downs. That was huge.

Hard To Watch Pitta
It was hard to watch tight end Dennis Pita go down untouched, stay down and get carted off the field, in obvious distress. There are reports circulating that he has suffered a dislocation with a possible fracture of the same hip that he dislocated last season. If that's true, it's a brutal development for one of the Ravens' most popular and affable players. He had repeatedly said that his hip was fine now and that doctors had told him his chances of suffering another injury were no bigger than anyone else's. But his hip seemingly just gave out Sunday after he caught a pass and turned upfield in the second quarter. Needless to say, it's a huge loss for the Ravens. Pitta is one of Flacco's favorite targets and was off to a great start in 2014. In Ravens Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's blueprint, the tight ends are prime targets. An injury to Pitta is going to cause some major re-wiring, and Owen Daniels needs to step up. Saddest of all, you can't help but wonder about Pitta's future if he is now dealing with chronic hip injuries.

Browns Left Pondering …
I think the Browns are going to wake up Monday and wonder how this game got away from them. They had the lead and the momentum midway through the second half, and in a span of just a few minutes, the Ravens suffered a series of setbacks, any one of which could have practically sealed the outcome. Jacoby Jones dropped a very catchable deep pass from Flacco that could have resulted in a touchdown. One play later, Flacco threw an interception that was returned inside the Baltimore 30. Later, the Ravens failed to convert on fourth-and-inches at the Cleveland 20. Then the defense gave up a 70-yard reception. Incredibly, after all that negativity for the Ravens, the Browns still only led by four points. It was after the interception and the 70-yard play that the Ravens defense held and Cundiff missed his kicks. Keeping their poise through all that enabled the Ravens to stay in position to win at the end.

Quick Takes
The Ravens defense had numerous problems, the biggest of which was its inability to put pressure on Hoyer. He was barely sacked, barely hit and had plenty of time to find open receivers, which he surely did ... The defense also had issues with tackling and coverages. It was a rough day in particular for safety Matt Elam … Rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley was fortunate not to get ejected for taking a swing at a Cleveland player in the third quarter. He was flagged for a personal foul … The Browns really fooled the Ravens with a trick play in the second quarter. Johnny Manziel came in for one play and appeared to leave, but hung on the field near the sideline, ran a deep route and caught a long pass from Hoyer. Only problem was the Browns fooled themselves, too. Terrance West, the rookie back from Towson, was late onto the field and didn't get set before the ball was snapped, drawing a flag … Lardarius Webb was active for the first time in 2014, but he played little. When the Ravens gave him a shot as the slot defender in the third quarter, he was immediately beaten for a 24-yard completion. Clearly, he has a long way to go before he's 100 percent … The win puts the Ravens halfway toward equaling their 2013 total of road wins, with seven games to go.

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