Here’s what the Baltimore Sun sports staff had to say immediately after the Ravens’ 13-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Sunday’s Week 15 game at FirstEnergy Field in Cleveland.
Childs Walker, reporter: Sometimes, a game goes so poorly that you just have to forget it. What else can the Ravens do after they followed up a pair of tough wins with an all-around stinker marked by turnovers, special teams mishaps and unfinished drives?
They started with a three-and-out from their defense and a 71-yard drive from their offense but still fell behind thanks to their continued futility in the red zone. The missed opportunities continue to pile up for this team. We saw another one just before halftime as Justin Tucker hooked a 48-yard attempt outside the left upright. When Browns cornerback Denzel Ward snatched a contested ball from DeSean Jackson in the red zone to start the second half, it was fair to wonder if anything was ever going to go right for the Ravens. Their passing game is barely functional, so the margin for error is tiny. It disappears when they can’t even finish drives with field goals.
A lost fumble in their own territory and a blocked Tucker field goal told us this was not going to be their day. Marcus Peters’ calf injury could prove more costly than the defeat, because cornerback is one of the least stocked positions on the Ravens’ defense. They lost another stalwart when Calais Campbell walked deliberately to the locker room after hurting his knee. The Ravens hope to get quarterback Lamar Jackson back for their Christmas Eve date with the Atlanta Falcons, so they’re better off looking ahead than dwelling on this mess.
Mike Preston, columnist: The Ravens got smacked in the face with reality Saturday. They played a team with a mobile quarterback who hurt them with both his arm and his legs. The Ravens’ run defense had improved recently with the addition of inside linebacker Roquan Smith, but Cleveland made sure he had a blocker in front of him almost every running play.
This was another game the Ravens could have and should have won, but they have to get out of the mud after playing teams like Denver and Pittsburgh. When they fall behind, they usually struggle to come back, regardless if Lamar Jackson or Tyler Huntley is playing quarterback. They usually struggle against good teams, but the Browns aren’t even that good.
Ryan McFadden, reporter: The Ravens put together an offensive performance that should make you pull your hair out. Although J.K. Dobbins looked good, rushing for 125 yards, Baltimore’s passing game continues to regress. With the Ravens trailing by 10 points, Baltimore needed plays in the air to be able to make a comeback. However, we saw the lack of receiving talent that has plagued the team since Rashod Bateman got hurt.
It was a matter of time until Deshaun Watson would begin to feel comfortable in Cleveland’s offense. He didn’t put up insane numbers, but he made plays when it mattered most to pull off the victory.
C.J. Doon, editor: A backup quarterback can only do so much with this group of wide receivers. Demarcus Robinson, Devin Duvernay, DeSean Jackson and James Proche II gave the Ravens virtually nothing on a day when Tyler Huntley needed help. To make matters worse, offensive coordinator Greg Roman chose to abandon the running game and force Huntley to throw 30 times. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are still working their way back from knee injuries, but they only got a combined 20 carries while averaging 9 yards per rush. That’s simply not enough. The Ravens had plenty of chances to win this one, and they’ll be kicking themselves if they wind up losing the division to the Bengals.
Tim Schwartz, editor: The Ravens have been a flawed team all season but they were exposed today in Cleveland. This was a failure on offense, and the fingers should be pointed at the coaches, specifically Greg Roman. Baltimore ran all over the Browns, totaling 198 yards on the ground, and somehow Tyler Huntley threw 30 passes against the NFL’s worst run defense. They really missed Lamar Jackson’s playmaking ability, and now they can say goodbye to winning the AFC North.