Reporting Mark Zinno
Never apologize for a win in the NFL. Never. You only get 16 chances to win games in this league – regardless if you get yours by luck, bad officiating, or plain stupidity by the other team – you take every win you can get. The Ravens won’t apologize for their 14-6 win over the Browns on Sunday and they certainly will take being 1-1 over being 0-2.
The Ravens have beat the Browns in 11 straight games and in certain cases it was because the Browns are just the Browns – which means, any combination of turnovers, bad penalties, inability to convert on big plays or big series, bad quarterback play and bad coaching will give the game to their opponent. Sunday was no different. The Browns out played the Ravens for the first 30 minutes, but only had six points to show for it. Justin Tucker missed two field goals for the Ravens, while his predecessor in Baltimore, Billy Cundiff was deadly accurate on his two attempts. The Ravens were way too pass-happy in the first half, throwing 23 times and running just seven. For the math majors, that 69.5% of the time. The Ravens looked out of sync and headed towards an 0-2 record.
The second half began and the Ravens began a new philosophy. They stopped the Browns and forced them to punt. The Ravens then went 12 plays on their way to a go-ahead touchdown running the ball nine times. Something else also happened, the Ravens defense went into 2006 mode and just dominated the Browns dropping Browns quarterback Brandon Weedon a total of five times and holding them scoreless. The offensive philosophy went from pass to run, as the Ravens only dropped back to pass 12 times in the second half, despite Ray Rice leaving the game early with a hip injury. Bernard Pierce carried the load with 19 carries. Rice finished with 13. Combined with the Ravens fierce pass rush, it was enough to grab a win.
The positives of the game were the fact that they had more balance and weren’t so pass heavy. That was a key part of the victory, although head coach John Harbaugh tap-danced around questions about the run game during his Monday weekly press conference. The defensive pass rush was relentless and looks like it will continue to get better.
The negatives from the game were the 2.8 yards per carry from the running game. They are ranked 28th in the league in yards per carry through two weeks. Dennis Pitta’s loss is truly being felt. Through two games last year, Pitta had 13 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. All the tight ends on the roster COMBINED through two games this year have 10 receptions for 126 yards and zero touchdowns.
The Ravens challenge next week is a Houston Texans team that is 2-0 by way of a lot of good fortune. Do you think they care? As I said earlier, never apologize for a win in the NFL.
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