The Browns have caught the attention of the NFL, but the job is far from finished. This Monday night, in front of the whole nation, they host former MVP Lamar Jackson & the Baltimore Ravens.
The Baltimore Ravens (7-5) hosted the Dallas Cowboys (3-9) this past Tuesday night. The Ravens, who were rocked by COVID, had another incident happen within an hour of kickoff. It came out that WR Dez Bryant has tested positive for COVID and was ruled out for the game against his former team. The game still went on as scheduled and the Ravens defeated the Cowboys, 34-17. QB Lamar Jackson on his first game back from the COVID/reserve list went 12/17, threw for 107 yards and two TDs to WRs Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin and ran for 94 yards and one TD. Another Baltimore player who was out due to COVID, RB J.K. Dobbins, ran for 71 yards and a TD. RB Gus Edwards had a respectable rushing performance with 101 yards off only seven carries.
The Browns had a dominant first half outing against the Tennessee Titans that sealed the game and lifted the team to 9-3. In the first drive, the Browns marched down the field and were in striking distance of the end zone, but after a drop from WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, the Browns had to settle for a field goal. On the next drive, the Browns shockingly stopped RB Derrick Henry on a 4th & 1 and after the turnover on downs, the Browns capitalized on a touchdown throw from QB Baker Mayfield to WR Jarvis Landry. On the very next drive, DT Larry Ogunjobi stripped the ball from Derrick Henry on the line of scrimmage, and S Karl Joseph recovered the ball. Henry hadn’t committed a fumble all season until that play. Cleveland once again capitalized and scored, this time on a trick play that set up OT Kendall Lamm wide open in the end zone. Up 17-0, the Titans were able to answer with a 17 yard TD pass from QB Ryan Tannehill to WR Corey Davis. The game now 17-7 in the second quarter, the Browns answered back, and the whole NFL took notice. On the first play of the next drive, Baker on play-action threw a bomb to a wide-open Peoples-Jones, redeeming himself from his earlier dropped catch. After a defensive stop, the Browns got the ball back and scored again, this time coming from a perfect 18-yard throw from Baker to WR Rashad “Hollywood” Higgins in the right corner of the end zone. After another defensive stop, the Browns got the ball back, marched down and RB Nick Chubb dove into the end zone. The score going into half was 38-7, Cleveland Browns on top.
The defense took Derrick Henry out of the equation for the offensive scheme of the Titans and he finished with only 60 yards on 15 carries. Tennessee bounced back in the second half, scoring 28 points, but it was too out of reach from the explosive Browns’ first-half performance. The Titans had to rely on Tannehill’s arm, who went 29/45, threw for 389 yards and three TDs. Corey Davis had a big day finishing with 11 receptions and 182 yards along with his first-half TD. Browns QB Baker Mayfield finished 25/33, threw for 334 yards and four TDs. DE Myles Garrett returned from the COVID/reserve list and although he had relatively a quiet game stat-wise with two tackles, he did have another sack, which makes him the first Browns player to have three seasons of 10+ sacks, and T-3rd in the league of most sacks this season thus far.
The Browns and Ravens meet once again and although Cleveland came out flat in the season opener at Baltimore, this rematch will show that the Browns are not the same team from Week 1. The Browns were embarrassed 38-6 and the Ravens looked like the same team last year that dominated the league with a MVP at quarterback.
The Browns now have established an identity with their running game; they have the PFF’s highest-graded offensive line, and Baker has become more in tune, taking steps in the right direction with smarter throws, fewer interceptions (seven INTs this season so far compared to 21 last year) and he has built a chemistry with his wide receivers’ Landry, Higgins and Peoples-Jones. HC Kevin Stefanski has learned since his first game head coaching as well, leading the Browns to 9-3 and 2nd place in the AFC North by utilizing his team’s strength, the run game. Chubb and Hunt behind the great offensive line have run over defenses all season, which opened up the play-action for Baker.
The defense is what it is, but they are a bend but don’t break defense. Going against the Lamar Jackson-led offense and good players like RBs Ingram & Dobbins coming back from COVID, this is going to be a challenge, but last year’s MVP is not having as big of a season this year, especially compared to Baker. Lamar has 2,055 throwing yards, a 63.8% completion percentage, 17 pass TDs, seven INTs and a 75.7 PFF grade, compared to Baker’s 2,442, 62.7%, 21 TDs, seven INTs and 77.0%. The Ravens being 7-6 and fighting for a wild card spot means that their backs are against the wall, so it’s important the Browns do not take this game lightly whatsoever. The Browns are fighting for a late-season push to secure a playoff spot themselves and also are using this game as a prove-it game that they can go toe to toe with their division foes, even though they had a standout game vs. the Titans last week.
This primetime game between the Browns and Ravens is monumental. This is a chance to not only prove to the whole nation that the Browns are for real but an opportunity to slim down Baltimore’s chance from making the playoffs and more convincingly secure Cleveland’s spot in the playoffs and even make a stride towards catching the Steelers’ top spot in the AFC North. With the lights on over First Energy Stadium, Governor Dewine allowing fans to stay past the 10 p.m. curfew for home-field advantage and the primetime slot, the Browns need to fire at all cylinders and take it to the Baltimore Ravens. Get vengeance from the first game of the season.
Watch the Browns host the Ravens this Monday night at 8:15 p.m.!