Here’s what the Baltimore Sun sports staff had to say immediately after the Ravens’ 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns in Sunday’s Week 7 game at M&T Bank Stadium:
Jonas Shaffer, reporter: How many games this season have the Ravens played like the better team, only to emerge with a loss? Sunday’s result might’ve been the universe finding some cosmic balance. The Ravens’ offense was far from great. The defense had its moments but was shaky late. The Browns had a comfortable margin in yardage. But when the game ended, the Ravens had more points and first place in the AFC North.
Childs Walker, reporter: The Ravens keep finding new ways to make life difficult for themselves. This time, it was a fumble from running back Justice Hill after they drove deep into Cleveland territory with a chance to go up six or 10 late in the fourth quarter. They escaped by the skin of their teeth when linebacker Malik Harrison blocked a 60-yard field-goal attempt, but man, this team lives dangerously.
The Ravens tried a different order this week, actually conceding a lead for the first time all season before their defense and running game gained traction. Their offense was disjointed all day, with Lamar Jackson struggling to find breathing room in the pocket or open receivers down the field. But Gus Edwards gained tough yards in his first game since January 2021, including a fourth-down plunge over the goal line to give the Ravens a 10-point lead in the third quarter.
The Ravens can thank their special teams for giving them significant advantages throughout the day, whether it was Jordan Stout flipping the field with a 69-yard punt, Devin Duvernay setting them up for an easy score with a 46-yard punt return or Justin Tucker pushing the lead back to 10 with a dead-center, 55-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Mike Preston, columnist: Two bad football teams played, so one team had to win. The Ravens held on, but it felt like a preseason game where the coach walks in afterward and says, “We just have so much to work on.” The only positive was the result. That’s it, folks.
Ryan McFadden, reporter: After the Browns’ 75-yard scoring drive early in the fourth quarter and running back Justice Hill’s fumble with 3:20 left, it appeared the Ravens were in for another head-scratching collapse. But they had some penalties go in their favor, including an offensive pass interference call on wide receiver Amari Cooper and a false start that set up a 60-yard field-goal attempt from Cade York that was blocked by linebacker Malik Harrison.
Outside of a few drives in the fourth quarter and the Browns’ opening march, Baltimore’s defense was solid. The Ravens recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles. Linebacker Patrick Queen was a beast, totaling 11 tackles (two for loss) and a sack.
The Ravens relied heavily on the running game, as 160 of their 254 yards came on the ground. Running back Gus Edwards looked good in his season debut, rushing for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
C.J. Doon, editor: Take a deep breath, everyone. Yes, the Ravens nearly blew another fourth-quarter lead, but you have to admire the resolve in the final minutes. Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh’s hustle to chase down a scrambling Jacoby Brissett on third-and-12 might have been the difference, forcing a long field-goal attempt that was backed up even further by a controversial false start penalty. Malik Harrison’s block on Cade York’s 60-yard try could be a turning point; go back and look at the reaction on the Ravens’ sideline after the ball fell harmlessly to the turf. The Ravens needed a break, and got one.
Tim Schwartz, editor: The Ravens might have gotten away with one there near the end on the Browns’ false start penalty, but there’s no guarantee Cade York makes a field goal from 56 yards. Still, this one is about the resurgent Ravens running game, led by a healthy-looking Gus Edwards and his two touchdowns. Lamar Jackson attempted 16 passes — a proven winning recipe for Baltimore — while six Ravens (including Mark Andrews!) ran 44 times for 160 yards with the longest just a 12-yard gain. That’s the ground-and-pound football they need to play to win these games. Their inability to pull away in games is still an issue but at least they’re trending in the right direction by getting the rushing attack going in the fourth quarter. With the suddenly average Buccaneers up next, the Ravens seem ready to make their move.