CLEVELAND - Through four games, the Browns have been the Jekyll and Hyde of the NFL. One week they look atrocious. The next they resemble a solid NFL team, which was the case today as they evened their record at 2-2 with a 27-13 win over the 2-2 Ravens.
The Browns' offense was efficient and opportunistic as they took advantage of two Raven turnovers and converted them into 14 points in the first half enroute to the win. The Browns scored all the points they would need in the first half and built a 27-6 lead.
The Browns took the opening kickoff and marched 55 yards on nine plays after Joshua Cribbs had a 41-yard return on the opening kickoff. The big play was a pass from Derek Anderson to Kellen Winslow, who caught the short pass on third-and-one and turned it into a 25-yard completion to give the Browns a first down on the eight. Anderson hit Joe Jurevicius for a two yard touchdown on third-and-goal with 9:46 to play in the first quarter to give the Browns a 7-0 lead.
The Ravens answered with a drive of their own, but Steve McNair was intercepted by Leigh Bodden and the Browns started on their own 22. On the first play, Anderson found a wide-open Braylon Edwards for a 78-yard score. Edwards was well behind Chris McAlister and nine seconds later, the Browns were up 14-0 with 5:46 to play in the first quarter. It was the longest touchdown pass of Anderson's career.
The Ravens drove to the Browns' 28 on their second possession and Matt Stover was wide right on a 46-yard attempt to keep the score at 14-0. The Ravens moved the ball on their first two possessions, but had nothing to show for it. On the first drive, Bodden picked off McNair and on the second drive, the Ravens had a delay of game to put them in third-and-long.
After the missed field goal, Anderson tried to hit Jurevicius on third-and-short with three Ravens' defenders in the area and the Ravens defense did what they do so often do. Ed Reed picked off a deflected pass and returned it 20 yards to the Browns' 29. The Ravens moved to the three but had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Stover to make it 14-3.
The Browns got the field goal back as Phil Dawson hit a 41-yard attempt after an eight play, 49-yard drive to make it 17-3 with 9:17 to play. The two big plays of the drive were surprisingly on the ground as Jamal Lewis broke a 28-yard run and then Jason Wright clipped off a 15-yard run while Lewis was getting a breather.
Yamon Figurs fumbled the ensuing kickoff after a hit and recovery by former Raven Darnell Dinkins and the Browns recovered at the Ravens' 31. After three plays, Dawson was wide left from 42 yards, but the Ravens were offside, giving the Browns a first down at the Ravens' 20. On third-and-three, Wright ripped off a 12-yard run to the Ravens' one. Lewis leaped over from the one and the Browns built their lead to 24-3 with 4:52 to play in the half. The Browns went 31 yards in eight plays for the score.
Trailing 24-3, the Ravens moved the ball once again. A face mask penalty on Kamerion Wimbley gave the Ravens a first down at the Browns' 36 and back-to-back passes to Todd Heap moved the ball to the 11. On third-and-11, McNair tried to hit Heap for the touchdown, but Brodney Pool was able to get a hand on the ball and knock it down. The Ravens settled for a 29-yard field goal by Stover to make it 24-6 with 52 seconds to play in the first half.
The Ravens couldn't cut into the Browns lead as they took the second-half kickoff and moved to the Browns'23 and Stover missed a 41-yard field goal with 8:49 to play in the third quarter.
The Browns took over after the missed field goal and drove nine plays and 66 yards to the Ravens' two, but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal from Dawson to make it 27-6 with 4:12 left in the third quarter. Winslow caught a 49-yard pass on the drive as he broke through two defenders and took the ball to the Ravens' two. It was Winslow's longest reception of his career.
Trailing 27-6, McNair led the Ravens downfield for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 27-13 with 7:14 to play as McNair hit third-string tight end Quinn Sypniewski for a four-yard touchdown. The Ravens took 6:27 off the clock as they went 85 yards on 13 plays.
With under four minutes to play, the Ravens went for it on fourth-and-21 at the Browns' 44, but Daven Holly was able to break up the pass intended for Mark Clayton. The Browns took over and were able to use up most of the remainder of the clock.
Rushing for Daylight: The Ravens led the NFL in rushing defense, giving up just 61 yards per game coming into the game. The Browns had 61 yards rushing with 9:32 to play in the first half. Jamal Lewis had 40 yards, Jason Wright had 15 and Lawrence Vickers had six. The Ravens defense hadn't allowed a rushing touchdown in 11 games until Lewis scored from the one. At halftime, the Browns had 83 yards rushing. Lewis had 50 and Wright had 27. They finished with 99 yards with Lewis leading with 64 on 23 carries.
Baby Steps: The Browns defense came into the game allowing over a 176 yards a game rushing. They held the Ravens to yards 111 yards, but did allow RB Willis McGahee to go over 100 yards with 104. It marked the fourth-straight game the Browns have allowed an opposing rush to gain over 100 yards. However, the Ravens passed for 307 yards as McNair threw 53 passes, completing 34. The Browns gave up 418 yards on defense.
Receivers' Day: Despite only having ten receptions as a team, two of the Browns receivers came within an eyelash of getting 100 yards. WR Braylon Edwards had three receptions for 97 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown in the first quarter. TE Kellen Winslow had four receptions for 96 yards, while Joe Jurevicius had two grabs for 10 yards, including a touchdown.
He's a Player: P Scott Player punted for the first time for either team with 13:41 to play in the game. It was a 53-yard punt. Player replaced P Dave Zastudil for the second consecutive week as Zastudil was inactive with a back injury. Player punted two more times, placing both inside the Ravens' 20. The Ravens did not punt once.
Brick Wall: The Browns gave up had no sacks for the third consecutive game. Conversely, the Browns were unable to sack QB Steve McNair. Since Derek Anderson took over at quarterback in the opener against the Steelers, the line has given up just one sack.
Offensive Explosion: The Browns scored 24 or more points for the third-consecutive game. They had 24 points in the first half. They only scored 24 points three times all of last season.
Good Derek: QB Derek Anderson was 5-of-6 for 119 yards on the Browns' first two possessions, including two touchdowns. He had a 158.3 QB rating during that span. He finished 10-of-18 for 204 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He finished with a QB rating of 109.5.
Bodden Picks: CB Leigh Bodden intercepted QB Steve McNair on a bad throw as the Ravens were driving on their first possession. It was Bodden's second interception of the season.
McGinest Active: LB Willie McGinest was active for the first time of the season after undergoing a back surgery in training camp. He started on the right side, lined up at end. The Browns first defensive lineup had two down linemen and five defensive backs. He finished with one assist.
Inactives: For the Browns: P Dave Zastudil, DB Gary Baxter, RB Jerome Harrison, OL Isaac Sowells, OL Kelly Butler, WR Travis Wilson, DL Orpheus Roye. Ken Dorsey is the third quarterback. Ethan Kelley started in place of Ted Washington at nose tackle and Shaun Smith started at LE for Roye. Scott Player was the punter. For the Ravens: K Rhys Lloyd, CB Samari Rolle, RB Cory Ross, RB Mike Anderson, LT Jonathan Ogden, DL Trevor Pryce, LB Edgar Jones and Troy Smith is the third quarterback. Dwan Edwards started for Pryce. Corey Ivy started for Rolle. Adam Terry started for Ogden and Marshal Yanda started at right tackle.