After back to back home wins against the Bengals and Niners, the Ravens played the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday. It felt weird to be nervous about the game, but it was only natural to feel that way following the Ravens pattern of beating the competitive teams and playing down to ones with losing records.
The game had the potential of being long and ugly. Mother Nature was cruel and sprinkled the field with rain during the entire game. Playing on a cold, muddy field with a wet football is not favorable for any football team. Add a dash of a divisional match-up in the city where the Ravens originated from with Cleveland fans who still despise them made the Ravens faithful cross their fingers and pray that another ugly loss would not take place.
The Ravens stuck to their tried and true method of running the ball. They were good at running the ball, RB Ray Rice was the workhorse of the team, he had 29 carries for 204 yards and one touchdown and RB Ricky Williams had 16 carries and one touchdown.
While weather conditions weren’t ideal for throwing the ball, QB Joe Flacco went 10 for 23. TE Ed Dickson and WR Anquan Boldin led in receiving, but unfortunately weren’t able to score.
This was the third consecutive game without defensive leader LB Ray Lewis. Lewis stood on the sideline as he cheered and motivated his team. It was still hard not seeing #52 on the field. In his 16th season, his number is the centerpiece of the Ravens defense. During Lewis’ absence, other defensive players stepped up and took charge. DL Pernell McPhee sacked Cleveland QB Colt McCoy two times and DE Arthur Jones took McCoy out of commission for a bit when he hit him and hurt his knee.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game was K Billy Cundiff’s two missed field goals. Thankfully the score wasn’t close and the missed field goals did not affect the outcome of the game, but one cannot help to worry about what would have happened if that game (or any other game) was close and a loss was attributed to those six points being left on the field.
The Ravens 24-10 win over the Browns ended the fans’ frustration of the Ravens playing down to less competitive teams. Were they perfect? No. Did they need to be? No. They did what they needed to do; they ran the ball and shut down the Browns offense. They found a way to win and that’s all we needed them to do.
The Ravens still control their own destiny. With a quarter of the season left and two division games on tap, they need to stay focused and keep their eyes on the prize. Take it one game at a time and keep playing like Ravens.