Week 3 . . . Ravens @ Browns
Two teams . . . both entering the game at 1-1-0, both suffering season opening losses to a divisional opponent and both coming off of exhilarating wins in week 2. Add in the history of these two franchises and it had all the makings of a very good game even though only one team enjoyed recent, sustained success. And entertaining it was. Both teams traded scoring through the first three quarters with the Browns holding a 21-17 lead entering the fourth quarter.
One play of note had been set up by the coaching staff the prior week. Johnny Manziel entered the game in the 2nd quarter, handed the ball off to Isaiah Crowell for a 1 yard loss and ostensibly left to go back to the bench. However, he never left the field and instead hovered at the sideline with his back to game. On the next play, at the snap of the ball, OC Kyle Shanahan signaled Manziel to take off down the sideline and Hoyer hit him in stride for an apparent 39 yard gain. However, Terrance West was flagged for an illegal shift and the play was called back.
Momentum had swung in the Browns’ favor after Tashaun Gibson intercepted a Joe Flacco pass five seconds into the final quarter and returned it 17 yards to the Ravens’ 30 yard line. But the Browns couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, losing 8 yards on a 1st down running play followed by two incompletions and a missed 50 yard field goal attempt by Billy Cundiff.
Five plays later, the Ravens turned the ball over on downs and the Browns were in business again at their own 21 yard line. Brian Hoyer then hit Taylor Gabriel for a 70 yard gain to the Ravens’ 9 yard line. Again, the Browns were their own worst enemy and lost 9 yards on three plays (including an illegal forward pass penalty). With a chance to go up by 7 points with a little under 8 minutes remaining, the Ravens blocked the 36 yard Cundiff field goal attempt and took over on their own 26 yard line.
Two minutes later, Justin Tucker hit a 21 yard field goal and the Ravens now trailed by a single point with 5:04 remaining. After the kickoff, the Browns went three and out and Baltimore got the ball back on their own 25 yard line but had to punt six plays later. Again, Cleveland went three and out and punted the ball from their own 10 yard line with 2:05 left in the game clinging to a 1 point lead.
. . . clack, clack, clack
Baltimore fair caught the ball at the 50 yard line, had no time outs left and only 1:58 left to play. On 2nd down and 5, Joe Flacco hit Steve Smith for 32 yards and, just like that, the Ravens were on the Browns’ 13 yard line. Three plays later, Justin Tucker hit a 32 yard field goal as time expired and the Ravens, although outplayed for most of the afternoon, snuck out of Cleveland with 23-21 victory.
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Next up – (Week 4; Bye Week) Week 5; The Tennessee Titans