(Written 10 days ago on the evening of the Ravens/Browns game, this article appears on this new..."/> (Written 10 days ago on the evening of the Ravens/Browns game, this article appears on this new..."/>

Baltimore Ravens Blown Away by a Brown Bess


Credit: Brad Mills – USA TODAY sports

(Written 10 days ago on the evening of the Ravens/Browns game, this article appears on this new Baltimore Wire blog on the blog’s opening day – 11/13/13 – to populate the site immediately and give new readers a sense of what this coverage will be like.)

The Cleveland Browns’ Davone Bess only tallied 24 years on three receptions, but each was a .75 caliber musket ball shot to the heart of the Ravens. (The “Brown Bess” musket was the most common British-made muzzle-loading smoothbore gun used in British Empire expansion and in the hands of soldiers on both sides of the American Revolution.)

Coming off a bye week and having lost two the past three games, the Ravens really needed a conference win over the Browns – who entered as losers of three straight. But in the end, the Browns broke an 11-game losing streak to the Ravens (dating back to 2007) with a 24-18 win on their home turf.

Bess pulled in a well-defended but accurately-lofted one-yard TD pass from Jason Campbell for the first score of the game on a 4th and goal at 8:29 of the first quarter to give Cleveland a 7-0 lead.

Bess would shoot the Ravens again at 10:16 of the second quarter with a 20-yard touchdown catch and run. He put a move on Ladarius Webb that totally buckled the knees of the Ravens’      cornerback – one of the best open field moves you will ever see. This gave the Browns a 14-3 lead.

The third volley from Bess came in the fourth quarter on a huge fourth-and-one catch of three yards for the drive-sustaining first down at the Baltimore 40-yard line. Campbell was rolling out to his right and fired the ball back to his left to hit Bess who was working back to the ball (at 3:12). That drive culminated in a Browns field goal at the end of the fourth quarter – but the back-breaker was the sustained drive that ate the clock down to but 14 seconds remaining in the game.

This was a game that Baltimore “could have” won, though it is certainly not one they “should have” captured. Again, it was the lack of a running attack that proved deadly for the Ravens. Even though the Browns rank high in ground defense and have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher against them all season, Ray Rice managed only 17 yards on 11 carries; and Joe Flacco was the leading rusher of the team’s 55-yard total with 25 yard on three carries.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said they have to figure out this problem, “We cannot run the ball right now. That’s a good front, they did a great job. We felt by spreading them out we would give ourselves a chance to run the ball. For the most part, they stayed in a seven-man box against the spread look we gave them.”

Flacco was 24 of 41 for 250 yards with two TDs and a single interception in a game that was relatively even statistically and in time of possession. The otherwise stellar Browns defense in the first half did bend and break just before intermission. The Ravens cut the score to 14-10 on a Flacco 19-yard pass to rookie Marlon Brown.

Perhaps the most deadly single play of the game for Baltimore was a turnover on a mishandled fair catch by Tandon Doss. The fumble gave the ball to the Browns on the Ravens’ 11-yard line. A defensive penalty for 12 men on the field, and two plays later, Campbell struck again with a four-yard TD pass to Gary Barnidge. Though Doss would open the fourth quarter with 36-yard punt return to the Cleveland 32 that set up Flacco’s second touchdown pass to Marlon Brown (and 2-point conversion to the same), it would be the last of the scoring for the Ravens.

Now with a record of 3-5 (and the Browns at 4-5), the Ravens are seriously in a must-win situation for next week’s game against the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals.

The season is unraveling in a fashion that fulfills the prophetic fears of many skeptics – particularly that the offensive line was not going to be able to protect Flacco and facilitate a healthy running game. Even though the Browns’ defense is excellent (holding KC to only 50 yards in the second half last week), the 55 yards of Baltimore rushing and five sacks allowed by the line point to a serious problem that would not appear to have an expedient fix.

Harbaugh said, “We aren’t making plays with the run, making enough runs to open up the defense and give us a chance. … I still think we can run against anyone, but that was the story of the game.”