Monday, September 27, 2010

Ravens top Browns 24-17

Touchdown! Anquan Boldin celebrates one of his three touchdown receptions in the win over the Browns.

It wasn't pretty, but the Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns at home yesterday, 24-17, to improve to 2-1 and 1-1 in the division.

Joe Flacco rebounded in a big way after his 4 interception debacle in Cincinnati last week, chucking 3 TD's to Anquan Boldin and passing for 262 yards and no interceptions. But the running game failed to ignite the offense and the defense allowed Peyton Hillis of all people to run roughshod for 144 yards.

And the Ravens were lucky to win the game, actually. After trailing 14-3 for much of the first half, the Browns battled their way back before halftime, putting the score at 14-10. And after a scoreless third quarter, the Browns took a 17-14 lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter and sucked the air right out of M&T Bank Stadium.

Were the Ravens, after being shut down in Cincinnati last week, going to blow another divisional game at home against the winless Browns? Was the defense really going to be trampled by the Browns anemic offense?

Flacco and the offense answered that question quickly scoring a little less than 5 minutes later, with Flacco hooking up with Boldin in the endzone for a pretty 27 yard TD and retaking the lead 21-17. A Cundiff field goal put the final nail in the coffin at 24-17.

But the defense was still abused to the tune of 304 total yards and 18 first downs. Hillis ran for 144 yards and a TD. Seneca Wallace completed 75% of his passes. They failed to create a turnover.

While it was a divisional game, and a win is a win, the Ravens have not yet hit their full stride, 3 games into the season. Flacco and Boldin were on fire yesterday, but they were pretty much the only ones. Ray Rice rushed for just 80 yards before being removed from the game in the 4th quarter with a sprained knee. Willis McGahee only ran for 40 yards. And Todd Heap was the only one able to horn some yards, 46, away from Boldin's 144.

So it's tough to take much away from a win like yesterday's. Flacco and Boldin played well, the offensive line kept Flacco upright, but everything else was ho-hum. And that's not going to be enough to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh next week.

The Steelers are chugging along 3-0 after dismantling the Buccaneers yesterday in Tampa Bay, 38-13. Their defense is playing insane and their offense, with Charlie Batch under center, is finally moving the ball and scoring points.

The Ravens still have to get better if they want to beat the Steelers. And hopefully yesterday was a step in that direction.

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