The Baltimore Ravens clinched their 3rd consecutive playoff berth by defeating the Cleveland Browns in Ohio with impressive fashion.
A 20 – 10 victory gave Ravens fans plenty to be hopeful for as their team gave them 4 quarters of solid football. Here are some quick initial thoughts on the Ravens win:
The Browns struck first with a trick play in which Mohamed Massaquoi threw a 20-yard TD strike to Brian Robiskie in the first quarter. After that, the Ravens scored 10 unanswered points with T.J. Houshmandzadeh catching a Joe Flacco TD pass, before Phil Dawson hit a field goal with 3 seconds left in the 1st half to bring the Browns within 3 points.
The second half started off disastrous for the Browns as they failed to execute an onside kick, which gave the Ravens excellent field position. And 3 plays later Flacco connected with Mason for a TD and the Ravens never had to worry again as the Browns failed to put together a dangerous drive in the 2nd half. Final score 20 – 10.
- The Ravens backed up their smack-talk by holding Peyton Hillis to just 35 yards on 12 carries, for a 2.9 yard-per-carry average.
- The Ravens intercepted Colt McCoy 3 times (Ed Reed-2 and Lardarius Webb-1), and Chris Carr also forced a fumble, which was recovered by Jameel McClain.
- The Ravens continued their streak of not allowing a TD in the 3rd quarter for the 24th consecutive game (the longest streak since 1933).
- Flacco’s TD to Mason in the 3rd quarter marked the first time that has happened in the last 6 games.
- Ed Reed got two interceptions, but almost coughed one up by failing to complete a successful lateral to Daniel Ellerbe, who fell down and hustled to jump on the loose ball before a Browns player could; he has to be more careful because the game was too close. However, a successful lateral could have resulted in a touchdown as the Ravens out-manned that side of the field.
- Joe Flacco threw his 3rd interception in the last 12 games. He also tried to run out of bounds on one play, but right before that he got hit by rookie CB Joe Haden causing him to fumble out of bounds, but the play was called a sack. Flacco needs to learn to throw the ball away in that situation. Flacco also threw for a pedestrian 102 passing yards (12 of 19), but this was partially due to a well-executed run-game.
- Head Coach John Harbaugh continues his poor track record of calling challenges.
The Ravens are now 11-4 and they still have a shot at winning the division next week along with a first round bye and home-field advantage if they beat the Bengals and the Steelers lose to the Browns. Both games are played at 1 pm, so there are no guarantees until the final whistle blows next Sunday.
Another comforting fact is that it seems the Ravens are getting hot at the right time. They ran the ball extremely well, Joe Flacco made timely throws, the defense suffocated Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy, and the Ravens claimed their 3rd consecutive playoff appearance— a franchise record. Flacco also became just the 4th quarterback in history to go into playoffs in all of his first 3 seasons.