It was not a pretty game and things nearly ended up differently, but the Cleveland Browns defeated the Baltimore Ravens 24-22.
There was a here we go again feeling as the Baltimore Ravens were driving down the field late in the 4th to cut into the Browns nine-point lead. The Ravens would score on a 14-play 90-yard drive to make it a 24-22 game, setting the scene for a crucial onside kick attempt. Baltimore had not recovered an onside kick in 20 seasons, but that would change as the ball hit Andy Janvovich and a Ravens defender recovered the ball, giving the team that once derailed 24-3 life. In a turn of events that usually result in the Browns losing the game in one way or another, Denzel Ward came though on 4th and 6 to tackle Rashod Bateman four yards short of the marker ending Baltimore’s comeback attempt.
This was an all too close finish for a game that looked like the Browns were going. to run away with early. Baker Mayfield was efficient early on, completing 14 of his first 16 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Connecting with Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper for scores, this was the first multi-touchdown game for Mayfield since the 41-16 win over Cincinnati in early November. From that point Mayfield was just 8-16 with one interception for just 64 yards, a complete flip of the first half of his pass attempts. This has been the story for Mayfield this entire season, unpredictable and inconsistent. Just when things appear to be pointing up the other shoe drops and an uninspired performance follows.
A key play for the Browns came on defense late in the 2nd quarter as Myles Garrett stripped Tyler Huntley, recovered the fumble, and returned it for a touchdown for what was Cleveland’s final points of the game.
Lamar Jackson and Calais Campbell both exited the game pretty early on for Baltimore. While the Ravens did all of their scoring with Huntley in the game, Jackson is a better quarterback and perhaps those early field goal drives end up as touchdowns. Their absences definitely played a factor in the Browns ending up victorious.
Nick Chubb rushed the ball 17 times for 59 yards, the second-lowest total of the season, the lowest being the loss to Baltimore in their previous game.
Donovan Peoples-Jones led the Browns in receiving with five reactions for 90 yards, with 34 of those yards coming on their touchdown drive which was aided by Baltimore penalties. Peoples-Jones, Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper each finished with five reception. Mayfield leaned on this trio heavily throughout the contest, targeting them 22 times total.
It was not a pretty win, but the Browns will certainly take it. Cleveland is in a state where they their season is on the line every week and they cannot afford to lose. A visit from the Las Vegas Raiders awaits them next Saturday as they look to continue their push for the postseason as they currently are on the outside looking in as far as the playoff picture is concerned.