It had all the exciting elements that makes Cleveland Browns football great. What made it even better is that it was a win against the AFC North Division rivals Baltimore Ravens who have a “slight edge” in wins over the Browns (13 out of 14). The victory puts Cleveland (2-3) in third place in the division under Pittsburgh (2-2) and Cincinnati (5-0). The key to the victory was the way that the Cleveland Browns Offense was able to adapt to a throwing game rather than relying on the run. In the end it spelled victory for Cleveland.
First blood was drawn by Raven’s Quarterback Joe Flacco bootleg one yard run for a touchdown at 8:30 in the first quarter. Cleveland answered with a Travis Coons field goal. As time ticked off at the end of the 1st quarter Raven’s FB Kyle Juszczyk caught a pass and ran 12 yards for the score. The Browns dodged a bullet at 10:48 in that same quarter when an interception against Josh McCown was called back due to a roughing the passer penalty. While not able to convert for touchdowns, Cleveland managed two more field goals going into the locker room trailing 14-9.
After Baltimore managed another touchdown and following a hands to the face penalty that kept their drive alive, the Browns added to their score when #13 QB Josh McCown scrambled into the end zone making it 16-21. The Ravens added six on a touchdown but failed on the point after. The catch of the game came when McCown lobbed an 18 yard throw to TE Gary Barmidge who managed to catch the ball without using his hands. It was ruled a catch and a touchdown and the score now stood at 27-22 as the Browns got to within less than seven.
RB Isaiah Crowell got a huge chunk of his 87 yards total with a brilliant run off tackle. Cleveland went for two and made it and now led 30-27. With just over three minutes left, Baltimore marched down the field but where unable to score six for the win and had to settle for the tie.
Baltimore had the first shot at scoring in over-time but the Brown’s Defense overwhelmed them and the ball went over to the Browns on a punt. McCown rallied the offense for 51 yards and got the team to the 32 yard line where Coons kicked the game winning three.
McCown had a team record 457 yards throwing (beating out a record that dated back to the Brian Sipes era with 36 out of 51 that was good for two touchdowns. This is Josh’s second 300 plus yard throwing game in a row. The Browns were able to overcome a 12 point deficit for the victory against the Ravens. This was also the second straight overtime game as the Browns were defeated last week by the Chargers in San Diego in OT.
Injury wise McCown ended up with a tender ankle but feels fine. DB Joe Haden suffered a concussion and will be on NFL Concussion Protocol missing at elast one game and LB Scott Solomon is out with a knee injury.
Concerning the win, Head Coach Mike Pettine had this to say, “I can’t say enough about the way the offense prepared and played yesterday. (QB) Josh (McCown) obviously had a career day. I think that is a function of a lot of things. As I have talked about before, if you want your quarterback to play well, you have to play well around him. I thought Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) put together a great game plan for us to be successful against their defense. We knew it was going to be tough sledding to run the football, especially early. We knew our success was going to come through the pass game. Offensively, we were able to execute. It was impressive how well we played around those guys and a total team effort. I thought the offensive line blocked well. We caught the ball. I know Josh is going to get heaped with praise, and it is well deserved, but I just think we functioned extremely well as a unit.
Next Sunday the Browns will be home at First Energy Stadium against the Denver Broncos. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and the game will be carried live on CBS WOIO Channel 19, Cleveland and on the radio at 98.5 WNCX Classic Rock. Tickets are still available by clicking HERE.