The Browns and Ravens played an incredibly hard fought, defensive matchup which could have gone either way, but went to the team that could make plays in crucial situations on offense, which was the Ravens. Both offenses struggled to create opportunities and the Browns missed a few huge ones while the Ravens had fewer, but made them count for more, winning 14-6.
Joe Flacco made a couple of nice plays, but was really more of a patient, yeoman performance. His stats look better than his game did on the game live, but he made the plays they needed him to make to get touchdowns on both of their scoring drives. Meanwhile, Brandon Weeden went from abject failure to mediocre and hurt failure. He did not do anything to lose this game necessarily, but he could not make the plays in big moments or capitalize on opportunities. He avoided turning over the football but was part of three delay of game penalties and missed some open passes that could have been huge.
The other critical factor in this game was coaching. The Ravens had an offensive gameplan and they stuck to it for the most part. They always ran the football to at least make the Browns honest with it and continue to stop it. They had a few productive carries, but overall, the Browns run defense was impressive. The Ravens ran the ball 36 times to get 99 yards on the day for an average of only 2.8 yards per carry.
Despite the fact that game was never more than a one score game, the Browns abandoned the running game and Trent Richardson again. In the fourth quarter, Richardson had one touch for 4 yards; a dump off pass. His 18 carries for 58 yards came in the first three quarters. The Browns appeared to come out with some resolve to run the football, giving the ball to Richardson a few times right out of the half and moved the ball. They also had success throwing the ball to him as he caught 5 passes for 21 yards. When it mattered most, they inexplicably put the game in Weeden’s hands and the Ravens were able to get pressure because they knew what was coming and shut it down.
Both defenses were extremely impressive overall. The Ravens sacked Weeden 5 times and held the Browns to 259 yards of offense on 62 plays, which works out for a little over 4 yards per play. The Browns sacked Flacco twice, including Barkevious Mingo’s first sack on the first play of his NFL career, caused a turnover when Desmond Bryant caused a fumble on Ray Rice (who would later leave the game with what appeared to be a non-contact hip injury), and held the Ravens to 296 on 71 offensive plays for a similar average as the Browns.
The difference in the game came down to the fact that the Ravens had an effective game plan and balance they stuck with along with a quarterback who made the plays they needed in crunch time while the Browns bailed on their game plan for the second week in a row and tried to have Weeden win the game. He ultimately left the game with an injured hand, so Jason Campbell came in on the last drive to finish out the game.
After taking a 6-0 lead into halftime with some momentum after holding the Ravens to two missed field goals and getting a field goal on a last minute drive, the Ravens clamped down on the Browns and won the second half, 14-0. This game was extremely close in a lot of ways but the quarterback position, the offensive line protection, and play calling came heavily favored the Ravens and led them to a 14-6 victory and getting back to even with a 1-1 record.