The growing timing and chemistry between Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown was one of the lone bright spots Sunday during a disheartening loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Brown caught two touchdown passes and a two-point conversion to account for 14 of the Ravens' points during a 24-18 defeat at FirstEnergy Stadium.
With his 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame and athleticism, Brown is an inviting target for Flacco.
"Honestly, it's nothing complicated," said Brown, who went undrafted out of Georgia after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last November. "On a couple of plays, Joe threw strikes and I ran a good route. Probably everyday in practice, I just see myself getting better at just one thing. If I just keep doing that, the sky is the limit from there."
Brown now has a team-high five touchdown catches this season and a total of 26 receptions for 297 yards.
"Marlon played really well, Marlon made plays for us," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Marlon made catches and runs after the catch. He made a spectacular play on the two-point conversion. I'm really proud of the way he played."
Targeted nine times, Brown caught five passes for 54 yards. That included touchdown catches of 19 and 7 yards.
However, Brown wasn't satisfied by the contributions he made, considering they came in a loss.
"I care about winning and making plays when I can," Brown said. "I just try to always be right where Joe wants me to be. If I'm not where Joe wants me to be, I'm not going to get the ball."
Running game goes nowhere
The Browns' stout front seven stonewalled the Ravens' beleaguered running game, limiting Baltimore to 55 yards on 21 runs with a paltry average of 2.6 yards per carry
If not for Flacco scrambling for 25 yards on three runs, including a 15-yard run that was the Ravens' longest, the team would have had only 30 rushing yards overall.
"We have to figure that out," Harbaugh said. "We can not run the ball right now. That's a good front, they did a great job. We felt by spreading them out we would give ourselves a chance to run the ball. For the most part, they stayed in a seven-man box against the spread look we gave them.
"We aren't making plays with the run, making enough runs to open up the defense and give us a chance. It's tough to run against that look. I still think we can run against anyone, but that was the story of the game."
Three-time Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice rushed for only 17 yards on 11 carries after declaring that the runing game would get back on track. Rice wasn't in the locker room after the game when it was open to reporters.
"You're never going to have the perfect game or the perfect blocking scheme," said backup Bernard Pierce, who rushed for 11 yards on six carries. "You get as many yards as you can. I don't really get frustrated as much as you may think I get frustrated. It's man on man, body on body. Some mistakes were made, and it killed us."
J. Smith injured.
Starting cornerback Jimmy Smith left the game with a groin injury and didn't return. He'll be examined again Monday to determine the severity of the injury.
Smith was replaced in the nickel package by reserve cornerback Chykie Brown.
Harbaugh said Flacco, despite being sacked five times, wasn't injured on Sunday.