The Cleveland Browns seemed to finally put it all together in what was the most important game so far this season. With the 40-25 win against Baltimore, Cleveland enters a Week 5 matchup with the 49ers on Sunday Night Football as the division leader and a ton of momentum. The Browns proved that they can be a dangerous threat in this league by scoring 40 points on the road against a very good Ravens team. The scheme was significantly improved and they generated that much offense with Odell having a pretty pedestrian game. Baker Mayfield played much better, Nick Chubb ran all over the Ravens, Jarvis Landry had a career day before suffering a concussion in the third quarter and the defense played outstanding football despite their numerous injuries once again. There’s a lot to be excited about from Week 4 and if the Browns can continue to build on this game, the rest of the NFL should be on notice.
To be honest, the game didn’t start out so great for the Browns. If anyone blinked, they may have missed the first offensive possession. The three-and-out consisted of an incompletion, a doue-yard run from Chubb, and then a five-yard sack by Tyus Bowser. While it certainly isn’t what the Browns should want to achieve, they ended up getting the ball right back after forcing a three-and-out of their own. Mark Ingram had two rushes for 10 yards, but sandwiched in between the two and eight yard runs was an eight yard sack by Olivier Vernon who has been an underrated stud on the Browns defense. After P Sam Koch pinned the Browns back inside their own 20 to the 16, it was time for the real show to start.
The Browns were then able to put together a gorgeous 13 play drive that chewed up nearly nine minutes of game clock and resulted in a touchdown. Baker started off his connection with Jarvis who was involved early and often with a 16 yard gain over the middle. After an incompletion, Chubb ran for three yards and then Baker found WR Damion Ratley for 10 yards and a first down. Things looked bleak after a run for a loss of two and then a gain of four followed by a false start by RG Eric Kush leading to a 3rd & 13. However, CB Marlon Humphrey bailed them out when he shoved OBJ at the top of his route drawing an illegal contact penalty for an automatic first down. An illegal blindside block by Ratley killed a nice looking screen to Nick Chubb and gave the Browns a 1st & 25. However, Baker was able to find TE Pharaoh Brown in the soft spot of the big zone for a pickup of 18 yards as he dragged multiple defenders for a few extra yards to get back across midfield. A quick pass to Landry for five yards set up a 3rd & 2, which they picked up with a 19 yard reception by RB Dontrell Hilliard. After two more rushes from Chubb for seven yards, Baker found TE Ricky Seals-Jones wide open for a nine-yard touchdown.
The touchdown was an incredibly well-designed play where Seals-Jones crossed underneath of Odell Beckham Jr and when both defensive backs went with OBJ, it left Seals-Jones wide open with a free path to the end zone. Austin Seibert converted the extra point to make it 7-0 Cleveland with 2:50 left in the first quarter.
During the Ravens next drive, Lamar Jackson completed two quick passes for four and seven yards respectively for a first down. On the next play, Lamar Jackson escaped some pressure for an eight-yard run and then he found former Brown, WR Willie Snead, for an 11-yard first down. Gus Edwards rushed for three yards on first down, which was followed by an incompletion and then a sack by S Damarious Randall, who was able to make a significant impact his first game back, to bring the drive to a stop. The silver lining for the Ravens was that P Sam Koch was able to pin the Browns at their own 10.
Nick Chubb began the Browns’ first drive of the second quarter with a four-yard run, which was followed by a 13-yard reception for Jarvis Landry. The Browns string of dominance ended there after the next two plays went for a total of negative three yards. On third and long, the Browns were only to get eight of the 13 they needed to continue the drive and were forced to punt. A 46-yard punt from P Jamie Gillan gave the Ravens the ball at their own 22.
After three straight runs, the last being a narrow escape by Lamar Jackson before being brought down by Larry Ogunjobi just past the marker; the Ravens had a first down. Then the Browns decided to start blitzing Lamar Jackson heavily where he had two short completions for only three yards. On 3rd & 7, Jackson escaped, and he delivered an accurate throw to the wide-open WR, Chris Moore, who somehow managed to not get his feet down in bounds on the big play, which the Browns were forced to challenge because the refs somehow missed the call. It was (of course) overturned, but the Browns caught a lucky break here because the Ravens would have been basically locked in for points if the downfield catch was made.
After another good punt from Sam Koch, the Browns started their next drive at their own nine with a little over eight minutes to go in the half. The Browns offense looked great to start this drive picking up chunk play after chunk play. Chubb caught a pass for eight yards and then ran for 10 more on the first two plays. Jarvis Landry’s incredible game continued with yet another first down on an 18-yard reception. After the next play resulted in an incompletion, Nick Chubb had another nice run for seven yards leaving the Browns with a 3rd & 3. On the third and short, Baker seemed to make the correct read on the run/pass option (RPO) with the throw to Landry, but the defense played it well, and Landry seemed to pull up on his route, which lead to a Baker’s 6th interception of the season by CB Maurice Canady at the Baltimore 39 where he was able to lunge forward for a short return to the 42.
The Browns actually did a pretty good job holding Lamar Jackson in check and they played pretty solid run defense overall, which forced the Ravens to throw the ball. This drive, however, was far from their best moment as they allowed Lamar Jackson to begin the drive with a 29 yard run to the Cleveland 29 yard line. The worse part is that it could’ve been a lot more if Jackson didn’t trip up when he made a cut back toward the middle of the field. The Ravens offensive line then bullied their way to a successful rushing attack as Mark Ingram made his way to the 20, followed by power back Gus Edwards to the 16, and then rookie RB Justice Hill to the 11. The rushing attack continued with Mark Ingram up the middle for five more yards. Disaster almost struck for the Ravens offense though as Lamar Jackson tried to pull the ball from Mark Ingram too late, which caused the ball to come free. Ingram was able to recover, which allowed Jackson to find rookie WR Miles Boykin in the middle of the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown. K Justin Tucker capped off the drive with an extra point tying the game up at seven with 1:55 remaining in the half.
Following a putrid kick return for only 12 yards to the Browns 13 yard line, the Browns once again started with bad field position. Luckily for them, Jarvis Landry came to ball out that day and he was looking to make up for his mistake leading to an interception last drive. After an incompletion in Landry’s direction, Baker found him the next play for a 65-yard catch-and-run to the Baltimore 22. Next, Marlon Humphrey’s second penalty of the day, defensive holding, gave the Browns an extra five yards and an automatic first down. Unfortunately, Baker threw two-straight incompletions, so the Browns faced a 3rd and long. A nine-yard reception by Jarvis Landry and a gutsy 4th down QB sneak gave the Browns 1st and Goal at the seven. It’s too bad the Browns couldn’t capitalize on that as the next three plays were incompletion, one yard rush and incompletion. Despite being so close to the end zone, the Browns did the right thing by taking a 10-7 lead into halftime. Freddie Kitchens has been taught well to never leave points on the board; that’s one of the many reasons good teams win close games.
The Browns defense struggled a bit to begin the second half surrendering an 18 yard pass to Miles Boykin and then gifting the Ravens a first down two plays later with a defensive holding penalty. The Ravens potent rushing attack flashed again with a 17-yard scramble by Lamar Jackson followed by an 18-yard run by Mark Ingram II to the Cleveland 25. The Browns defense continued their “bend but don’t break” style though as they were able to put an abrupt stop to the drive. Lamar Jackson was tackled after only two yards on his rush, then he was sacked by Larry Ogunjobi and the drive ended with an incompletion that was nearly intercepted by LB Mack Wilson. Justin Tucker knocked through his 41 yard attempt to tie the game at 10.
On the other hand, their offense kind of exploded in the second half. Following a two-yard rush by Chubb, Baker was able to extend the play and deliver an accurate throw to Ricky Seals-Jones who ran behind his blockers for a 59-yard catch-and-run all the way to the Baltimore 14. On the very next play, Nick Chubb bursted through the end zone for his first touchdown of the day. After Austin Seibert’s extra point, the Browns had a 17-10 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
However, the Ravens offense was having just as much success generating chunk plays with a nine-yard pass to TE Nick Boyle, a nine and eight-yard rush by Mark Ingram II and then a four yard pickup by Gus Edwards. Jackson picked up another first down with a 10-yard pass to WR Seth Roberts for a first and then Edwards ran for three-yards to kick off the fresh set of downs. On the next play, the Browns forced the Ravens’ first turnover of the season as S Jermaine Whitehead knocked the ball loose on Mark Ingram’s nice run, which was recovered by DL Chad Thomas.
Nick Chubb began the Browns’ drive right where he left off with a 17-yard run and then a five-yard run. After a Mayfield incompletion, Baker was able to hit Seals-Jones for a 14-yard gain to the Baltimore 38. Eric Kush’s second penalty of the day, holding, wiped out a nice play and set the Browns back to a 1st & 20, which they were able to somewhat easily pickup with a five-yard rush by Hilliard, 12-yard catch from Landry and then another catch by Landry (who else?) for 29 more yards. Nick Chubb finished the drive off with his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon with a two-yard rush. Seibert converted the extra point giving the Browns a 24-10 lead with a little under a minute remaining in the third.
The Ravens offense desperately needed to answer or the game could get out of hand quick. They put together a great, methodical 14 play drive to do just that. Lamar Jackson completed his first two passes for 15 and five yards respectively, followed by an incompletion and then the Browns let Jackson get free for a seven-yard gain and a first down. Preseason standout Devaroe Lawrence then made a nice play to bring Ingram down in the backfield for a three-yard loss, but then Lamar Jackson was able to get the first down after an 11 yard completion to TE Mark Andrews and then a short rush to get just enough before being brought down by DL Sheldon Richardson. Gus Edwards kept the drive moving with an eight-yard reception followed by a 14-yard rush to the Cleveland 16. Two quick passes to the middle gave the Ravens a 1st & Goal, and two plays later, Jackson found Andrews for an eight-yard touchdown. On the two-point conversion, Myles Garrett classically jumped offsides allowing the Ravens to bring in the big guys to push right up the middle for the two-point conversion from Mark Ingram II to make the score 24-18 with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
After an extremely mediocre return to the 17 and a false start by TE Demetrius Harris, the Browns started their next drive at their own 12. Nick Chubb decided that it was the perfect time to plant his foot in the ground and burst through the hole and straight up the sideline for an 88-yard touchdown. The safeties took a bad angle underestimating Chubb’s speed and they had no chance to catch him once he was up to his nearly 22 mph top speed. For some reason, the Browns decided to go for two and they left points on the board when they weren’t successful on the questionable two-point conversion.
Luckily, the Ravens continued to be no match for the Browns for the rest of the game.
The Ravens took a substantial risk going for it on 4th and short following an incompletion, a four-yard pass and a three-yard rush respectively. The Ravens didn’t convert on 4th down as there was some sort of miscommunication between Jackson and Andrews that lead to the incompletion. The Browns didn’t exactly take advantage of the great field position starting at the Baltimore 31, though, only moving the ball six yards on the next three plays, but it was enough for a field goal. Siebert connected from 43 yards to increase the Browns lead to 33-18 with around seven minutes left.
After three-straight completions from Lamar Jackson for 21 yards, they took a shot deep down the middle of the field for Mark Andrews from around midfield. Jackson put a little too much air under the throw allowing S Jermaine Whitehead to make an incredible play on the ball jumping high into the air to intercept the pass before it even got to Andrews and landing in the end zone for the touchback. The great play to pick off the pass was good for his second turnover forced of the game going back to the fumble he forced earlier and it ended Jackson’s NFL-long streak of passes thrown since his last interception.
Unfortunately, the Browns essentially did nothing the next drive as they were forced to punt after a quick three-and-out. However, it didn’t take the defense a long time to get them the ball back as Devaroe Lawrence tipped Jackson’s pass into the air and ran under it for a big man interception on the second play of the drive.
This time, the Browns were able to take advantage of the momentum from another big play as they marched straight down the field. Hilliard had two rushes for six yards before Baker found OBJ for a 17-yard gain to get into the red zone. After three-straight rushes from Hilliard, the Browns were able to punch it in for a touchdown from the one yard line. Seibert’s perfect day continued as he converted the extra point to give Cleveland a 40-18 lead with only a little over two minutes remaining.
On a drive that didn’t mean too much except for the Ravens trying to gain some confidence heading into next week, the Ravens were able to find the end zone one last time. After a short completion, Jackson was sacked for a loss of 10 by LB Joe Schobert to force a 3rd & 15. Going for it all the way, the Ravens elected to take what was given with 10 yard gain on a pass underneath and then they were able to convert on 4th down with a 29-yard hookup with TE Hayden Hurst. After an illegal shift took them back to midfield, Jackson found Snead wide open on the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown. The Browns have to make sure they don’t get too lazy or tired or lacks like this until the game is completely over, but it’s hard to complain about the result. Justin Tucker’s extra point made it 40-25, which ended up the decisive score after the Browns took a knee.
Coming into Baltimore and scoring 40 points on the division rival’s turf to claim sole possession of first place in the AFC North will always feel great. The Browns really seemed to put it all together this week and they have to keep building from here if they want to be a special team. They proved that they can be a dominant team this year, but they have to continue making strides to live up to the hype. With all the highlights and the dramatically improved scheme, it’s hard to complain, but there is certainly still some stuff to work on. If the Browns continue playing like this, it will be a fun Monday Night in San Francisco.