After last week’s tough loss to the Gardner Minshew-led Indianapolis Colts, the Baltimore Ravens were looking to get back in the win column as soon as possible. Baltimore would face another backup quarterback and second rookie quarterback this season in Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Browns starter Deshaun Watson missed the game due to a shoulder injury, so the Ravens defense had an opportunity to take advantage of an inexperienced passer. That is precisely what they, especially the defense, did in Baltimore’s 28-3 shellacking of the Browns and took sole possession of first place in the AFC North.
Defense Leads The Ravens To Win Over The Browns
Ravens Defense Powered By Pass Rush
Right from the opening minute of the first quarter, the Ravens defense applied pressure on the rookie quarterback and made his day difficult. New signing Kyle Van Noy certainly made his presence felt on the opening drive, getting after Robinson, and Van Noy would continue to do that all game long. Jadeveon Clowney was also a force against his former team. There were times when Clowney didn’t finish plays, which needs to be cleaned up, but you saw the number 24 all over the field. The Ravens’ pass rush sacked Robinson three times and applied eight quarterback hits. It was the Ravens’ pass rush at their most robust they’ve been all season so far, and they did it without David Ojabo and Odafe Oweh.
Ravens Middle Linebackers Have Big Day
The Ravens know what having a good duo at middle linebacker is like. Ray Lewis and his pair of partners such as Jamie Sharper, Edgerton Hartwell, Bart Scott, and Jameel McClain. and Darnell Ellerbe come to mind. As well as the pair C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith. For the past season and a half, Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen’s tag team has impacted Baltimore’s defense, and they each had a big day on Sunday.
Smith led the Ravens in tackles with ten with one for a loss, had a hit on Robinson, had two pass deflections, and was genuinely all over the field. Queen had five tackles, with three for a loss and a sack. Both players have been great over the middle and tackling machines with speed and tenacity. Queen is off to the best start of his career, and if he keeps this up, he’ll parlay it into a nice contract in the offseason.
Three Interceptions By Ravens Banged Up Secondary
Baltimore’s secondary entered this game a bit suspect, with injuries to Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Williams. While Williams returned to practice and is on the way back, he missed this contest with Cleveland. In their absence, the Ravens defense stepped up with a three-interception day by Brandon Stephens, Geno Stone, and Kyle Hamilton. Stephens’ pick was significant as he returned 52 yards to the Browns 10-yard line. He was setting up the first of two Lamar Jackson rushing touchdowns on the day. Stone’s pick was returned for 36 yards, which set up Jackson’s second touchdown pass of the day. Hamilton’s pick happened on the final play of the game.
Ravens Offense Has an Interesting Day
On the other side, Baltimore’s offense had a mixed day. The offense had two charming drives that resulted in touchdowns, which saw Jackson make perfect throws to Mark Andrews, Zay Flowers, and Melvin Gordon. It also saw the running game and Gus Edwards have a nice day, and the offensive line held their own. They also capitalized on turnovers, and Jackson had an overall great day, scoring four touchdowns in total (two passing, two rushing). However, the offense punted seven times, and Jackson fumbled the ball two more times; Cleveland recovered one, and they failed to maintain drives consistently. They didn’t need to be great today, as the defense was that dominant against the rookie quarterback, but they still have much to work on. It’s an offense that is a work in progress week by week.
The Ravens go from one rivalry they’ve dominated since 1999 to a rivalry that has been back and forth for two decades. A rivalry that has been one of the best and most physical in all of football. It’s another date with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are coming off a bad 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans, which saw quarterback Kenny Pickett leave the game with a knee injury. If Pickett can’t play, the Ravens will again face a backup quarterback in Mitch Trubisky. Including playoffs, the Steelers lead the all-time series 33-25. In the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens are 15-18 against Pittsburgh and are 1-5 since 2020. This will be the 34th meeting between Harbaugh and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin since Harbaugh’s first season in 2008.
Main Photo: Ken Blaze – USA Today Sports