An improbable special teams play by a talented but injury-plagued second-year defensive end, was what the Baltimore Ravens needed to close out the game and beat the Cleveland Browns 34-27 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
That injury-plagued defensive end was for he who is Brent Urban. Urban for the last two years can’t seem to stay healthy or have the Ravens (4-7 overall, 2-2 AFC North) trust him enough to activate him on a consistent basis for game day. But tonight none of that mattered. Urban’s left arm swatted Browns kicker Travis Coons’ field goal attempt of 50 yards to the BAL 36 yard line, where his teammate and strong safety Will Hill picked up the live ball and raced 64 yard untouched and down the Ravens sideline for the game-winning score.
Urban was an athletic and helpful pass-rushing defensive end at Virginia, but in the NFL he can’t stay healthy and he is a limited snaps defensive end. Plus, there’s that special teams niche he has carved out for himself in 2015.
Then there’s Hill, who after the game explained to a TV reporter that he could care less about the Browns players around him when he returned that blocked kick for the game-winning score. And the way he ran that ball back, he really was telling the truth.
The Ravens really needed this win to help with their psyche. Because they are on THIN ice as far as the playoffs are concerned. And they of course lost their leader in quarterback Joe Flacco, who was lost for the season last week versus the St. Louis Rams when he tore his ACL and MCL.
Second-string Ravens quarterback Matt Schaub stepped in tonight and did a commendable job, seeing the fact that his passing game weapons were limited to unsung and/or third, fourth, or fifth reads when guys like Steve Smith, Dennis Pitta, Breshad Perriman, were or were supposed to be in the lineup. Schaub went 20 of 32 for 232 yards, 2 touchdown passes and 2 picks tonight.
As for the Browns (2-9 overall, 1-3 AFC North), they were down to their third quarterback in Austin Davis (7 of 10 for 77 yards and 1 score). Starter Josh McCown (21 of 38 for 212 yards and 1 scoring pass), left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury and Johnny Manziel was activated for the game, but head coach Mike Pettine didn’t allow him to play in the game.
Davis who hadn’t played in a game or let alone started in a game since November 9, 2014 when he was a member of the St. Louis Rams, did a solid job in place of McCown. And he may be a player that the Browns need to add to the conversation as far as the future of their quarterback position. Because Manziel’s days are numbered in Cleveland. And McCown is a temporary stopgap veteran signal-caller whose own mortality and performance is under review too.
The Ravens kicked off the scoring of this game with a down the right sideline punt return for a score by rookie wide receiver Kaelin Clay (Long Beach Poly High). With 9:54 left in the first quarter the Ravens took a 7-0 lead.
Then early in the second quarter and armed with a 10-3 lead, Ravens rookie running back Javorius Allen (12 carries for 55 yards) scrambled out of the backfield to catch a Schaub aerial, that he took up field and through two Browns defenders’ attempted tackles for a 13 yard touchdown play. With 9:58 left in the second quarter the Ravens had a commanding (at the time) 17-3 lead.
Then just over five minutes later, McCown found receiver Marlon Moore near the left bottom corner of the end zone for a 15 yard scoring play. With 4:36 left in the first half the Browns cut the Ravens’ lead to 17-10.
Browns inside linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepted his third pass of the season, when he picked off Schaub at the CLE 48. Dansby then raced untouched down his right sideline for a 52 yard score. With 12:16 left in the third quarter the Browns took a 20-17 lead.
But the Ravens took the lead right back, when receiver Kamar Aiken (6 catches for 80 yards and 1 score) took a Schaub out pass into the end zone from 15 yards out. With 5:30 left in the third quarter the black and purple took a 24-20 lead.
The Browns’ were in dire straits on their third to last offensive drive of regulation as they faced a 4th and 5 from the CLE 34 yard line. But Davis on that 4th down play, was able to find receiver Brian Hartline (8 catches for 74 yards) over the middle for an 8 yard gain to the CLE 42. Then two plays later, Davis found receiver Travis Benjamin (6 catches for 90 yards and 1 score) who sold the slant route real good after the snap. But the receiver ended up running a post route which enabled him to get wide open for Davis to get him the ball for an untouched 42 yard score. With 1:47 left in the game the score was tied at 27-27.
With less than a minute left in the game the Browns took over at the BAL 46, after cornerback Tramon Williams jumped in front of a pass intended for Aiken. That pick set up a 50 yard field goal attempt by Coons with three seconds left in the contest.
More stories you might like