Reporting Jerry Coleman
After unveiling the Super Bowl Banner to the fans, the Ravens took to the field and faced their AFC rival, The Browns, who jumped out to an early 6-0 led by two Billy Cundiff FG’s, in his first appearance back in Baltimore after he was cut by the team last offseason.
It was a sluggish first half, which included two missed FG’s by Ravens kicker Justin Tucker. However, after halftime the Ravens came out ready. On their first possession they drove the ball down the field for 80 yards over 12 plays. The long drive culminated with a five-yard run by Bernard Pierce. That 7-6 advantage, was the team’s first lead of the game which they never relinquished
The Ravens defense stiffened up in the 2nd half, as the Browns were only able to rack up 85 yards, resulting in no points and 14 unanswered by the Ravens. Every time the Browns had a shot, the “purple and black” would make a stop and take over. The pass-rush was too much for 2nd year Quarterback Brandon Weeden, and as Head Coach John Harbaugh explained “We have a chance to be one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league; we have to make that happen.” The pass rush assaulted Weeden and sacked him five times, which resulted in his early exit from the game with a left thumb injury. With the success that Ravens seemed to enjoy in the 2nd half, Torrey Smith disclosed. “It’s Just execution, we know that we have to do it but you have to do it consistently and I think we showed what we can do and how we can move the ball and we just have to keep working.”
The execution was there in the second half however with just 10:15 left in game the Ravens had driven the ball into the red zone after a completed pass to Marlon Brown. Then on second and goal Quarterback Joe Flacco, whose wife Dana gave birth to their second boy just an hour before the game, found Rookie Receiver Marlon Brown for a 5-yard TD with just 8:57 left, making it 14-6. That score would turn out be to be all they needed to beat their division rival for the 11 straight time, which is the longest such streak between 1 NFL team over another. More importantly, they came away with their first win of the season to improve to 1-1.
Under Harbaugh the Ravens are 6-0 in home openers and tied for the best home record at 33-7 during the regular season. There were many injuries on the day but the most prominent was RB Ray Rice who left the game with a hip flexor. The coach said afterwards, “We’re confident and we’re optimistic but we’ll just have to see how he responds.” Rice was unavailable to comment, but didn’t require crutches. His injury could open the door for Bernard Pierce, who finished with a total of 57 rushing yards and has been a reliable option in the past. So, after giving up 49 to Denver in the first game of the season, the Ravens defense kept their opponent from reaching the end zone. Terrell Suggs said, “You got to have a short memory, you defiantly do not want to give 49 points every week, first thing is first, get the win, and you [have] to protect your home you win your home games and you have a good chance of making the playoffs and doing some great things.”