Earlier in the year, the Ravens had a pass happy attack that lead to many critiquing their offensive game plan. Unfortunately for the Browns, the Ravens decided to run the ball all day long. Cleveland kept close for a while, but never seemed to have a chance in this one. They simply could not stop Ray Rice and the Ravens running attack. Rice finished with a career high 204 yards on 29 carries, and even Ricky Williams had his best game as a Raven running for 76 yards. Flacco was held to a mediocre 158 passing yards, but it didn’t matter the way they were running the ball.
As for Cleveland’s offense, the only guy that really came to play was Peyton Hillis. He didn’t exactly blow anybody out of the water, but finished with nearly 100 yards of total offense. He had 45 yards on 12 carries, but with Cleveland trailing much of the game, Hillis wasn’t given enough carries to truly breakout. He also had a 52 yard reception on a blow defensive play where he was left absolutely wide open. That one catch was good enough to lead any receiver of either team in yards. Colt McCoy completed just under half of his passes for 192 yards. He had one touchdown towards the very end of the game with it out of line, and added one interception to rookie Jimmy Smith. Evan Moore was the recipient of the touchdown pass, his 3rd of the season.
Things really got out of hand when Lardarius Webb took a punt 68 yards back for a score. Before that, the Browns were still in striking distance, but with just under 7 minutes left and down by 3 scores, there wasn’t much hope left after the special teams score. Final score was 24-10.
With the loss, the Browns fall to 4-8 on the season and officially guarantee a record of .500 or below once again. They have lost 5 of their last 6 and 7 of their last 9. Certainly a rough stretch after a promising start. To make matters worse, Hillis aggravated his hip in this game, and is a question mark for next week. This offense works best with an effective running game and with the constant injuries to Hillis and Hardesty, the offense just hasn’t been able to get going. On the bright side, the Browns currently have the best pass defense in terms of yardage. Of course they have the second worst rushing defense which is easy to game plan for. The Ravens effectively kept the ball out of Flacco’s hands and allowed the running game to run all day long.
Things don’t get any easier next week, on a short week they travel to Pittsburgh to play on Thursday. The Steelers are 9-3 and are tied for first in the AFC North. Surprisingly, they haven’t faced off against Pittsburgh this year, so they will have the pleasure of facing them twice in the last 4 weeks. It is the same old Steelers, with a dominating rushing defense, fierce pass rush, and a run heavy offense. If anything, the rushing has been off for them this year. Mendenhall has had a disappointing season thus far, so there has been more pressure on Big Ben’s shoulders. Of course, just as any other season, Ben has been dealing with injuries. The latest, a broken thumb on his throwing hand. It didn’t effect at all last week as the Steelers torched the Bengals. He may have a little more trouble this week against the Browns number one pass defense. If the Browns can slow down Mendenhall, they might be able to keep this one close. Both teams have very good defenses, and the lower the score, the better for the Browns. I don’t see Colt McCoy having a career day, so keep it on the ground and hope for the best. Like I said last week against the Ravens, the Browns always play the Steelers hard. I wouldn’t discount them in this game, but it will be a challenge.