Browns-Ravens: Play of the Game

After a scoreless, hard-fought first half, the game turned irreversibly on one third-quarter play...

The Browns had to be nearly perfect in most respects to have a shot at defeating the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

When they weren't, they often paid for it.

And they paid for it dearly early in the third quarter.

The Browns, trailing 7-0 after Jesse Hodges' 38-yard punt and Joe Flacco's 41-yard pass to wide receiver Derrick Mason set up Ray Rice's 13-yard touchdown run, took over at their 41 following Joshua Cribbs' 37-yard return on the ensuing kickoff.

On the first play, quarterback Brady Quinn tried to hit tight end Robert Royal on a short crossing route to the left. The ball was thrown too far ahead of Royal, though, and went off his hands and right into those of safety Dawan Landry, who intercepted it and raced 48 yards for a touchdown.

Steve Hauschka, kicking – and poorly, at that – for former Brown Matt Stover, whom the Ravens let get away in the offseason because they didn't want to pay him, had his extra point blocked by Shaun Rogers. Thus, it stayed 13-0.

But with the Browns' inability to score points – not just on this night but at any time going back to the last six games of last season – it might as well have been 113-0. There was no way the Browns were going to catch up. It shouldn't be that way in any NFL game, but it is this way with the Browns.

The Ravens later added a 44-yard Hauschka field goal – imagine that, will ya? – to complete the scoring in their 16-0 win, signaling the beginning of a rush to the exits for many of the fans, but all that was after the fact. The game was over for all intents and purposes with a TD provided not by the Ravens offense, but their defense.

Come to think of it, the only way the Browns are going to score anytime soon, it seems, is with their defense or special teams. But that's not the formula to win consistently in the NFL, which may explain the plight of the 1-8 Browns.

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