AFC North

Ravens Blowout Browns Big Time

Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens. Photo by Erik Drost. (CC By-2.0)

Blowouts! This is how the Ravens have started the previous two season openers and they continued the trend Sunday versus the Browns with a 38-6 win. The Ravens looked strong on both sides of the ball, as well as on special teams, and overwhelmed the Browns. While the Browns did hurt themselves throughout the game, especially early on, the Ravens took advantage of every opportunity given to them as reflected in the final score.

How were the performances though? It’s time to take a look…

The Offense

 The clear leader of the team and offense, Lamar Jackson, resumed his MVP–caliber play. Jackson proved he is still improving his passing ability which was the standout dimension of his game. Throwing 20 for 25 with 275 yards, 3 touchdowns, and achieving a 152.1 passer rating, Jackson showed he is a true elite passer while only rushing for 45 yards on 7 carries. Prioritizing the pass not only demonstrated Jackson’s improvement as a passer, but also glorified the holes in Cleveland’s secondary. Taking advantage of this weakness really fueled a tremendous passing game.

Baltimore’s receivers were spot-on as well, making great catches all game long. Receptions were divvied up very evenly amongst Brown, Snead, Andrews, and Boykin; even getting a reception or two in for Duvernay, Boyle, and Ricard. The combination of balance amongst the receivers and reliability furthered problems for the Browns’ secondary.

Marquise Brown led the team with 101 receiving yards on 5 catches exhibiting even better route running and speed. Mark Andrews also caught 5 passes. He went for 58 yards and had 2 touchdowns, making a few incredible catches highlighted by a one-handed touchdown in the Ravens’ opening drive. With 3 receptions and 37 yards, Miles Boykin proved he can be a reliable receiver, and Willie Snead continued his consistent 2019 season with 4 receptions, 64 yards, and 1 touchdown. All in all, Ravens receivers really showed up to play, helping Lamar Jackson to a big day.

Considering what we saw from the Ravens’ rushing attack last year, Sunday’s performances could be seen as a slight disappointment. While not bad by any means, this game left more to be desired, especially from Mark Ingram. With only 10 rushes and 29 yards, Ingram had a very off-day compared to what we saw from him last year. The Browns defense did a great job of neutralizing Ingram at the line of scrimmage.

Even so, J.K. Dobbins had a debut to remember rushing for 2 touchdowns and 22 yards on only 7 carries. Dobbins exhibited some great bursts in the red-zone, adding another reliable weapon for the Ravens to use for the rest of the season.

With only 4 carries, Gus Edwards had an okay day obtaining 17 yards.

The Ravens truly honored their word when saying they would use every running back. No one, not even Jackson, had a big day in the yardage department, but they were effective enough together to score and keep the Browns’ D on edge.

The offensive line had a better than expected day considering the concerns of an absent Marshall Yanda. Ronnie Stanley, Orlando Brown Jr., Matt Skura, Bradley Bozeman, and DJ Fluker worked well together only giving up 2 sacks against a talented Browns defensive line. In the third quarter, Stanley received an ankle injury leaving the Ravens’ world standing still. However, Coach Harbaugh stated postgame it was not serious which gave the Ravens a huge sigh of relief. DJ Fluker filled in for Stanley, and while not nearly as good, was still serviceable. Lamar Jackson handled the limited pressure very well, getting out of the pocket and making great side armed throws giving the line some extra confidence.

The Ravens offense resumed last season’s productivity with solid quarterback play, receiving, rushing, and blocking.

The Defense

 Despite the release of Earl Thomas, the Ravens defense was expected to be a top 5 unit in the whole NFL. This held true on Sunday with standout performances throughout the roster.

A concern going into the game was DeShon Elliott starting in place of Earl Thomas. This question was certainly answered as Elliott didn’t light up the stat sheet, but held his own in the secondary coming up with a couple big tackles.

Patrick Queen’s NFL debut was another highly anticipated start, and he did not disappoint. Racking up 8 total tackles and 4 solo, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 forced fumble, Queen had superior speed rushing Baker Mayfield and covering the middle of the field. This is what the Ravens needed at the linebacker position coming into the season. Queen appears to be a legit fit in the Ravens’ defense, and I can’t wait to see him again in Week 2.

The Ravens’ secondary might have been one of the most impressive aspects of the defense, holding the Browns’ stacked receiving core to only 189 yards and 1 touchdown. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters completely shutdown Beckham Jr., halting much potential progress the Browns could have made through the air. Landry and Njoku found some success against the Ravens, but not enough to have an impact on the game.

After last years’ embarrassing attempts to stop him, Nick Chubb was held to 72 rushing yards and no touchdowns. The Ravens definitely improved the rush defense which is good news considering they will have to play Derrick Henry in November. Even with a couple good runs from Chubb and Hunt in the first half, the Ravens defensive line held up throughout most of the game.

Calais Campbell is another new Raven who had a huge day, with 3 pass deflections, one of which was intercepted by Marlon Humphrey.

The fact that the Ravens held the Browns to only 6 points is a true testament to the hard work and incredible performances displayed by the defense.

Special Teams

 While not having the same impact as the offense and defense, the Ravens’ special teams play still deserves attention. Early in the game, the punt return team stopped Browns punter Jamie Gillan from attaining a 4th down conversion. This was a huge play, setting up the offense for back-to-back scoring drives and setting the tone for the remainder of the game.

The Ravens’ rookie returners were very impressive as well. Devin Duvernay showed off his outstanding speed with 64 total return yards, one being 38 yards long. James Proche had two good punt returns for 26 total yards, his longest being 17 yards long. This demonstrates huge promise the Ravens can be effective on returns even without De’Anthony Thomas and Chris Moore.

Following their blowout win over the Browns, it is clear the Ravens can possibly play better than last season. Rookies looked very solid in their debuts, and newcomers and returners are playing at a high level.

After the Texans’ below average performance last Thursday night against the Chiefs, the Ravens should continue winning next Sunday assuming they maintain this level of play.

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