Week 14: A W is a W
Browns 24, Ravens 22
Summary: A lot of things went wrong for the Ravens, and the Browns barely held on.
The key moment: I think the key moment was the bye week because the Browns definitely came out with a lot more energy and focus. It also could be Lamar Jackson getting hurt, but let’s try to stay positive.
Happiness level (scale of 1-to-10): 6. I mean, the season is still alive, so that’s good. But you would have expected this one to be a little bit cleaner and easier.
Well, I’ll say this about this particular Cleveland Browns team: They make for an excellent reality television show. They have played 13 games this season, and somehow we still have absolutely no idea if they are good or not. That’s hard to do. I was on Cleveland radio this week with Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps, and they asked me if I thought the Browns would make the playoffs.
I said, “I have no idea, but I think we’ll all know more after the Ravens game.”
And now it’s after the Ravens game, and we all know exactly as little about the Browns as we did before. Are they good? Are they bad? Is Baker Mayfield the right guy? Is Baker Mayfield the wrong guy? Who the heck knows? Remember the old “Saturday Night Live” skit about Pat, and the whole gag was that no matter what happened, we couldn’t know whether Pat was a man or a woman. These Browns might be the first team in NFL history to both make the playoffs and not make the playoffs in the same year.
I mean, on the one hand, let’s focus on the good — first of all, the Browns beat the Ravens, and that’s a big deal. The Browns almost never beat the Ravens. Coach John Harbaugh came into this game with a 23-4 record against Cleveland, and the way he has outcoached Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, Hue Jackson, that guy from a couple of years ago and Kevin Stefanski has been ridiculous.
And this time, the Browns jumped out to a 17-0 lead as a revived Mayfield and company carved up the Ravens’ 31st-ranked pass defense. I did not fully appreciate just how bad that Ravens pass defense had been this year because two weeks ago they made the Browns’ pass offense look utterly inept. But they have had more injuries in the secondary, and the Browns came in ready to exploit — and so they did. Lots of formations. Jarvis Landry looked great. Donovan Peoples-Jones looked great. Mayfield, even after Kareem Hunt got hurt, even without a couple of his best pass-receiving tight ends, looked in control. It was fun for a while.
Then late in the first half, Myles Garrett did Myles Garrett things — he sprinted by his would-be blocker, smashed Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, forced a fumble, chased down the fumble, picked it up and ran for a touchdown. It was his team-record 15th sack of the season, and it was his first NFL touchdown.
That made the score 24-3. Lamar Jackson, as mentioned, was hurt. The Ravens superstar defensive end Calais Campbell was hurt. This one was over, right?