This wasn’t the prettiest game for Baltimore, but in the end they pulled out the victory against a division foe. The Ravens are now 3-0 at Home, extending their league best home winning streak. They are 3-1 on the year and at the moment alone atop the AFC North. In their favor is 2 AFC North wins already after beating Cincy in week one as well.
Flacco threw for over 350 yards and did a good job of spreading the ball all over the field. Torrey Smith caught his lone TD pass on an 18 yard strike early in the 2nd Quarter. Flacco later followed with a one yard run in the 3rd Quarter to record his second TD of the night. He certainly wasn’t without flaw, however. He ended a drive early in the game with an interception in the end zone. That is inexcusable, especially in the red zone. He completed about 60% of his passes, which against a Cleveland team without Haden, could be better. At this point I am picking apart some fairly minor details of a win, but I want Flacco to be in that elite category of QB, and to do that he needs to polish off a few parts of his game.
Ray Rice played his poorest game of the year. he struggled to find holes in the offensive line, and finished with just 2.7 YPC. Still, he managed just short of 100 total yards by adding 8 catches for 47 yards. Bernard Pierce on the other hand had a bit of a coming out party. His hard nosed running worked well against the Browns D, as he took the rock 6 times for 48 yards. The Ravens don’t work around the running game as much as they used to, but if Pierce continues to impress, they will have to find ways to get him the ball.
The bigger news was Anquan Boldin, who had previously been very quiet all year. He had a huge second half and finished the game with 9 catches for 131 yards. It seems as if Flacco has a new favorite target each game, which should really keep defenses on their heels when they can’t lock down on one target.
The defense was fair, but were exposed a bit. Brandon Weeden threw for over 300 yards, but still completed less than half of his passes. On a rainy night in Baltimore, the Browns receivers struggled to hold onto the ball, especially Greg Little who had 3 drops. Massaquoi missed the game and Josh Cribbs was later knocked out of the contest. Factor all that in, and the Browns still only lost by a TD. Weeden could have had a much better line, and for the Ravens sake, he didn’t. Cary Williams was briefly redeemed for his awful game against New England, after he had a crucial pick 6 that ultimately was the winning score. Still, he is being targeted by defenses and exposing some major gaps in coverage. It is time for Jimmy Smith to fully take over the starting gig at this point.
I’ll forgive the mistakes because it was a division game on prime time in the rain. It would have been nice to just blow the Browns out of the water, but this one never truly felt out of hand. It seemed as though the Ravens were in a lower drive for much of the game, and could have really turned it on if need be. With that said, they take a very strong 3-1 record and a mostly healthy team into KC next week on 10 days rest. That should be a very winnable game, but the rush D needs to be on full alert. Jamaal Charles had a monster game last week against the Saints, and is fully capable of running all over the Ravens. The stout rush D doesn’t seem to be on par with previous years, so this is a point of concern. Also, the Chiefs D is probably the best the Ravens have seen, maybe besides the Eagles. They have some serious playmakers in Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers, and Eric Berry. They can cause serious turnovers, so the offensive line needs to working at their top level to make sure Flacco isn’t forced into making mistakes.