Browns cage the Ravens: 8 takeaways from the win


Oct 11, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) runs through the line during the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns somehow managed to find a way to win in Baltimore for the first time since 2007 as they defeated the Ravens on Sunday in overtime by the score of 33-30.

That was the same score the last time the Browns beat the Ravens on the road, also an overtime game decided by a field goal.

“Sometimes you have wins that can define a season or be a turning point, and we hope that was it for us.” – Head coach Mike Pettine

Here are eight takeaways – one for each of tight end Gary Barnidge‘s receptions – from just the second win by the Browns over the Ravens since 2008.

Gary Barnidge is the playmaker the Browns need.

There was much hand-wringing when the Miami Dolphins “stole” tight end Jordan Cameron in free agency, but over the past three weeks Barnidge has made everyone forget about Cameron.

On Sunday, Barnidge had eight receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown reception – his third consecutive game with a touchdown catch. The last Browns tight end to pull that off was Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome.

Barnidge has 20 receptions for 319 yards over the past three games as he has become quarterback Josh McCown‘s go-to man in the passing game.

Josh McCown – record-setting quarterback

Raise your hand if you had Josh McCown throwing for a franchise-record 457 yards in a game this season.

McCown surpassed Brian Sipe’s previous record of 444 yards, set on Oct. 25, 1981, against the Baltimore Colts, in chalking up his third consecutive 300-yard passing game of the season.

More importantly than all that, McCown did not turn the ball over in leading the Browns back from a 14-3 first-quarter deficit to post the win, meaning we can thankfully retire the “Browns only win with Johnny Manziel” storyline for the year.

McCown is not the long-term answer at quarterback obviously, but there isn’t much more he can do to keep this offense going as the Browns are averaging almost 27 points a game in McCown’s three starts since returning from a concussion.

The running game is still a problem.

We’d really be a lot happier if McCown was not throwing the ball 51 times a game, but when the Browns fall behind early and the running game is once again ineffective, you have to roll with it.

The Browns only rushed for 3.3 yards per carry against the Ravens, as Isaiah Crowell had 13 carries for 39 yards and Duke Johnson rushed nine times for 22 yards.

The running backs can catch the ball, though.

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said the Browns were going to return the running backs to the passing game this year and they were on full display against the Ravens.

Johnson had six receptions for 55 yards, while Crowell added two catches for 38 yards – including a 22-yard touchdown reception.

The pair were targeted 10 times and came down with eight receptions and a touchdown – which will work every week.

Oct 11, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett (29) gains yards past Cleveland Browns defensive back Donte Whitner (31) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The run defense – oh my!

The Browns allowed 181 rushing yards on Sunday, the fourth time they have allowed more than 150 rushing yards already this season.

The Ravens averaged 5.8 yards per carry and rushed for three touchdowns as they pretty much did whatever they wanted against Cleveland’s run defense.

It is hard to believe, but the run defense is actually worse this year than in 2014, when the Browns finished last in the NFL against the rush.

No pressure again on the quarterback.

After sacking Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota seven times in Week 2, it looked like the Browns were going to have a decent pass rush.

“A little closer than you’d like, but the outcome certainly was fitting and we’ll take it.” – Quarterback Josh McCown

But since then they have registered just three sacks and only got to Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco once on Sunday.

When you can’t stop the run and you can’t disrupt the quarterback, it’s going to be hard to win – and you can’t count on your quarterback to put up a record-setting game every week,

The penalties pile up …

Another game, another nine penalties for the Browns, who just can’t seem to stop being their own worse enemy. (Although the Ravens were even worse as they committed 12 penalties of their own.)

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It looked like the Ravens were going to take advantage of the Browns’ miscues on their final drive of regulation, however, after a (dubious) unnecessary roughing penalty against cornerback K’Waun Williams on a third-down incompletion helped jump start a Baltimore drive.

The Ravens would eventually make it all the way to the Cleveland five-yard-line, but the defense held the Ravens to a game-tying field goal rather than a game-winning touchdown.

It’s all well that ends well, we suppose, but the penalties continue to be a problem and the Browns are a wee bit lucky that they didn’t end up costing themselves the game today.

… as do the big plays.

The Browns came into the game having given up an NFL-high 10 plays of 30 yards or more, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

The coaching staff and players spent the week talking about how the defense is fine, they just needed to stop allowing those big plays.

Well, on Sunday the Browns allowed three more big plays – a 48-yard reception by Kamar Aiken, a 44-yard run by Javorious Allen and a 32-yard reception by Justin Forsett.

So much for all that talk.

Next: Browns beat Ravens in OT