Doug Kapustin, MCT
September 15, 2013
What happened: It was far from pretty, but the Ravens eked out a win with an improved defense and a just-good-enough passing attack. They sacked quarterback Brandon Weeden, above, five times while keeping the Browns out of the end zone. The Ravens offense had little success running the ball and was shut out in the first half. But Joe Flacco led the team down the field for two touchdowns — a 5-yard run by Bernard Pierce in the third quarter and a 5-yard catch by Marlon Brown in the fourth quarter.
Performance of the game: Middle linebacker Daryl Smith, who spent nine seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars before signing with the Ravens in the offseason, led the team with 11 tackles. He added 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss and two passes defended.
Turning point: While defense set up the win, the Ravens had to score at some point to avoid what would have been a truly embarrassing loss and an 0-2 start. After the Ravens got the ball at the 11:03 mark of the third quarter, running back Ray Rice bolted for 14 yards on the left side, then Flacco hit speedster Torrey Smith (Maryland) for a 23-yard pass down the middle. After conversions on third-and-7 and third-and-8, the offense got the first touchdown of the game with Pierce's 5-yard run.
Key stats: Cleveland's offense was 4-for-15 on third down and had 259 total yards. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker went 0-for-2 on field goals, one fewer miss than he had last season. Rice lost his fourth fumble in his last six games. The Browns went for it on fourth down twice but were stopped each time.
Quote: "When Joe put up points, it was like sharks. It was blood in the water, and we pinned our ears back," Ravens defensive tackle Arthur Jones said. "We know that anytime we put up points and the clock is rolling down, it's time to perform. It's time to get after the quarterback."