Ravens put together a complete performance in 38-6 rout of Browns
After watching the reigning Superbowl champion Kansas City Chiefs assert their dominance on the Houston Texans on Thursday to kick off the 2020 season, the Baltimore Ravens proved that they are right up there among the NFL and AFC elite with a commanding 38-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns in their season opener.
Reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson and the rest of Baltimore’s offense picked up right where they left off in the regular season last year from an efficiency and scoring standpoint. Even though they didn’t exactly dominate on the ground like they are accustomed to, the Ravens still moved the ball on the Browns at will on the day and much of that was thanks to a potent passing attack.
While Jackson didn’t exactly replicate his 324 yards and five touchdown performance from Week One last year, he had just as many incompletions against the Browns as he did touchdowns passes against the Dolphins in last year’s season opener (20-of-25). He was deadly accurate as he carved up a depleted Cleveland secondary for 275 yards and three touchdowns passing with no interceptions.
“Lamar Jackson just played a phenomenal game,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He just played a top-level game in every single way and I think he probably was the difference in the game.”
His strong connection with second-year receiver Marquise Hollywood Brown that was evident in training camp carried over to the opener with the two connecting five times for a game-high 101 yards. Jackson led the team in rushing with 45 yards but the Ravens’ running backs ran hard and rookie JK Dobbins got into the end zone a couple of times for his first career touchdowns.
Veteran punter Sam Koch didn’t see the field until outside of holding for a Justin Tucker extra point or field goal attempt until the third quarter because the offense was humming all day long. Jackson led six scoring drives with five resulting in touchdowns and one in a field goal and he likely would’ve had a seventh if it hadn’t been for an untimely fumble by Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard in the first quarter.
“The misconception of the offense is that we’re only a run-first team,” said tight Marks Andrews who hauled in two of Jackson’s three touchdowns. “We’ve shown time and time again that we can throw the ball. We use the run game to throw off that. We’re going to be dangerous in the pass game.”
The Ravens defense was just as impressive from start to finish as they stymied the Browns offense by harassing quarterback Baker Mayfield and blanketing Pro Bowl receivers Odell Beckham in coverage all game long.
“Six points against this offense is very, very good,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “And, really, the fact that we did contain their weapons was probably the key thing.
Prized offseason acquisitions Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe not only helped bottle up the Browns Pro Bowl backfield tandem of Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb on the ground but they also contributed as pass rushers by assisting in generating relentless pressure on Mayfield. Campbell led the team in pass deflections from his defensive end spot with three that included two batted passes at the line of scrimmage and third was tipped and picked off by a diving Marlon Humphrey.
Speaking of Humphrey, the 2019 First Team All-Pro led the charge for a Ravens’ secondary that held Mayfield to just 189 yards passing on nearly 40 attempts and the duo of Beckham and Landry to a combined eight catches for 83 yards. He and fellow 2019 All-Pro First teamer Marcus Peters were stick in coverage all day and were physical at the point of attack when the ball was in the air in their general vicinity.
“We kept the receivers pretty much under control, which was big, because we know how good those guys are,” Harbaugh said. “Just a few plays in there, here and there. So, I was happy with that. We also know we can really improve and get so much better.”
The secondary as a whole was smothering the Browns wideout on the day outside of allowing a handful of long completions. Other defensive standouts were rookie inside linebacker Patrick Queen and veteran linebacker LJ Fort who finished second and first in total tackles and combined for two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The entire defense had a bend but not break outing where they stiffened up in the red zone, made timely stops, and came up with a pair of clutch turnovers.
It was a dominating performance from the two-time defending AFC North champions who began their 2020 campaign with a statement win over a talented Browns team that showed glimpses of promise and actually won the time of possession but lost the turnover battle and couldn’t overcome the mistakes and miscues they made against a team that was clicking on all cylinders.
Next up for the Ravens is the very same Texans team that the Chiefs dominated in Week One in Houston. It will be a rematch of a Week 11 game from last season that took place in Baltimore where the Ravens blew out the visiting Texans 41-7. This will be the Ravens longest and the only real road trip of the season since their remaining away opponents this year all reside on the east coast.