Three Takeaways From The Ravens’ Win Over The Browns
1) Flacco Keeps Getting Better- It obviously helps when you’re playing against a team without its top cornerback, Joe Haden, but Ravens QB Joe Flacco is obviously growing more comfortable in an offense that is affording him more freedom each week after their 23-16 win over the Browns. It seems like Torrey Smith is evolving into his favorite receiver, but when they shifted coverage towards him that’s when Anquan Boldin got hot in the second half. Ray Rice is obviously a tremendous player, but this is Flacco’s offense now.
2) Browns Showed Fight- This Browns team is inexperienced and not overly talented. To be competitive in division games in the last two weeks shows their toughness and their commitment to head coach Pat Shurmur. Brandon Weeden shouldn’t be throwing it half as much as the 52 times he dropped back to pass, but Baltimore was committed to stopping Trent Richardson. Despite the offense’s shortcomings, Weeden led the team on some impressive drives and he is showing improvement. Cleveland’s defense held Baltimore to 16 offensive points and should be proud of its effort.
3) Regular Refs Restore Order- The regular referees made an enormous difference before they even stepped on the field. The players and coaches knew that they were going to conduct themselves more properly and not take as many liberties in bending the rules. We knew player safety would improve, the game would be faster and everyone’s situation would improve. ”These guys are really good,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said about the regular officiating crew led by Gene Steratore. “The communication was good. I didn’t agree with every call, but they were excellent.”
-The Browns don’t really have any reliable wide receivers yet, and Weeden was harmed by Josh Cribbs’ injury. Greg Little only recorded four catches on 10 targets, and it seems like TE Benjamin Watson is his best option right now. Little and rookie Josh Gordon have to mature and improve for Cleveland to continue to stay in these games.
-Bernard Pierce continues to play well as Rice’s backup. The rookie third round pick out of Temple ran it six times for 48 yards on Thursday and he has 17 carries for 88 yards this season. The Ravens really like him, and he’s turning into a really nice change-of-pace back.
Quote of the night- “Too much juice.” –Weeden on his Hail Mary pass through the back of the end zone near the end of the Browns’ loss.
Honorable mention- “I felt so bad for that Green Bay situation. Replacement refs, their families, I can’t knock them. The scrutiny they were under. That kind of scrutiny is bad. It’s hard going from like Pop Warner to the big leagues.” –Rice on the referee situation.