Week Two is in the books for the Baltimore Ravens following a 25-20 comeback win over the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore found itself in a three possession hole early in the game following Corey Coleman’s first two NFL touchdowns and an 85-yard touchdown on the ground by Isaiah Crowell. Joe Flacco and the Ravens woke up, sparked by a blocked field goal attempt returned for 2 points, and showed the NFL this Ravens squad will not give up. Justin Tucker showed up clutch with three long field goals, showing his worth after a new deal this offseason.
Just like in Week One, there was both good and bad from the Ravens, who fought to the wire to secure a win in Cleveland.
Along with last week, the Ravens spread the ball on offense (completions to 9 different receivers), Mike Wallace continued to show his worth as a WR1, the defense played stingy after the first quarter, and the Ravens won the game. I’ll try to keep my points fresh and not repeat myself throughout the season. Here are my main points.
What I Liked
- Ravens Kept Calm. After watching Corey Coleman score his second touchdown, I noticed that I didn’t see anyone on the team appear frustrated, nervous, or scared. They knew the game was not out of reach, it was still early, and that anything can happen in the NFL. Baltimore, ignited by Tavon Young’s 2-point conversion, started executing their game plan and churned out 25-unanswered points throughout the final three quarters of the game to be able to leave Cleveland with a win.
- Interceptions. Eric Weddle, the defense’s prized offseason acquisition and leader, gave Baltimore its first interception of the season with under a minute left in the first half. The pick swung momentum in Baltimore’s favor, as the offense was able to pull within one possession of the Browns going into halftime. C.J. Mosley sealed the victory with his third career pick, something the defense rarely did in 2015.
- Sacks From Young Players. All three players who recorded a sack yesterday are either 25 or younger. It was refreshing seeing the team able to rely on pressure from players other than Terrell Suggs or Elvis Dumervil, as has been the case in recent years. Matt Judon, Za’Darius Smith, and C.J. Mosley were all in the backfield throughout the game as well, which is an encouraging sign going forward.
- Dennis Pitta. The reemergence of Dennis Pitta has been great for Baltimore’s passing offense. Pitta recorded the second 100-yard game of his career, and what better place to do it than the field where he last injured his hip two years ago. Pitta consistently moved the chains and is carving a major role in Joe Flacco’s aerial attack. Look for Pitta to keep rolling throughout the year as Flacco’s safety blanket on third downs.
- Better Protection For Flacco. Flacco was not sacked and Cleveland’s defense only recorded five hits the entire game. The entire line pass protected well, which will be essential as the year goes on to keep Flacco upright. Although the line protected Flacco well, the running game was a different story.
What I Didn’t Like
- The Run Game. For the second week in a row, the run game disappointed, with another 80 yard showing. Although Cleveland built an 18-point lead in the first quarter, Baltimore stayed committed to running the ball throughout the game, so the excuse cannot be made that Baltimore abandoned the run because of the deficit. They simply could not get the ground game going against a weak Cleveland front seven.
- Giveaways. Flacco threw two picks to Joe Haden, both of which were questionable decisions as Haden had great position on both routes on both plays. The first pick happened early in the game and contributed to Cleveland building the early lead. These types of throws cannot happen against teams like the Steelers and Patriots later in the year, as the comeback chances will be slim to none against better quality teams.
- Yet Again, Another Slow Start. Just as the offense did against Buffalo, they started slow, and picked up as the game moved on. Like the turnovers, these starts will be more unforgivable against playoff contenders. Luckily it is only Week Two, and the offense seemed to gel much more than in Week One. There is still time to improve.
- Giving Up Plays To Josh McCown. Josh McCown picked up right where he left off last year against the Ravens, tearing up the secondary for two early touchdowns. McCown seems to know exactly where to throw against the Ravens. The secondary made mistakes that McCown took full advantage of. The defense tightened up after the first quarter, but better quarterbacks will be using this game to exploit the Ravens in upcoming weeks.
- No Kamalei Correa. It is concerning to see yet another second-round linebacker (Arthur Brown) not on the field for Baltimore. Correa buzzed in offseason practices early as a potential starter next to Mosley, but has since been very quiet. The hope is for the linebacker to find a role sooner rather than later on the defense. It isn’t quite as concerning because unlike Arthur Brown, Correa does see the field on special teams, which will go a long way to seeing defensive snaps, which is something Brown never did.
- It’s always exciting to see a large comeback victory in the NFL, and the Ravens showed heart en route to a 2-0 start. Cleveland played Baltimore close, as all teams in the AFC North do, and proved to be a good test for a Ravens team trying to prove it belongs in post season conversation. The second largest comeback victory in franchise history has the players buying into each other and feeling like they can win in the face of adversity.
Preview For Week Three
- The Jacksonville Jaguars are up next, as the Ravens travel to Florida for their second road game of the year. The Jaguars boast a high-flying offense and a revamped defense in 2016, though they are off to an 0-2 start. Records aside, this is not a team to overlook, especially on the road, and will be yet another tough test for this 2016 Ravens squad.