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At First Glance: Browns vs. Ravens

BaltimoreRavens.com writers give their first impressions of the Ravens’ 20-14 win.

Posted by BR.com on Saturday, December 24th, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, At First Glance, Garrett Downing, Ryan Mink, Sarah Ellison, Week 16 vs Browns

John Eisenberg: A home game against Cleveland was just what the Ravens needed after losing in San Diego. It was crazy that it came down to the Ravens needing to make a defensive stop at midfield in the final five minutes, as they were in complete control, up by 20 points, until the Browns, who are not very good, rallied on a punt return and their only scoring drive of the day. There’s usually a limit to the damage the Browns can inflict, though, and such was the case again. Poor clock management forced them to burn timeouts, which eventually short-circuited their rally, as did a crucial offside penalty. The Ravens played fairly solidly on offense, relying on their running game again. Anquan Boldin was missed, as the wideouts totaled just two receptions. The Ravens wrapped up a perfect home season but will need to win on the road next week to earn that division title and home playoff game they want so badly.

Ryan Mink: Whew, this one got a little too close for comfort. The Ravens dominated the first half and for much of the second, but a punt return for a touchdown put Cleveland right back in this game. Baltimore still got the win, but wasn’t the same offense without wide receiver Anquan Boldin and right guard Marshal Yanda, who suffered a chest injury in the second quarter. The Ravens also suffered injuries to cornerback Cary Williams and returner David Reed that cause concern going forward. Baltimore’s likely got to win the regular-season finale in Cincinnati to take the division and get a first-round bye, and it’s going to be a battle.

Garrett Downing: The Ravens should have handed the Browns a much more convincing defeat, but a late rally by Cleveland turned the game from a blowout into another gripping finish. Regardless of how they got there, the Ravens maintain control of the AFC North and are still in line for a home playoff game and first-round bye. The final quarter made for a nerve-wracking finish, but the Ravens played well enough overall to win it, and now need just one more win to seal an AFC North championship.

Sarah Ellison: It looked like Baltimore would sail to victory when they were leading at the half by 17 points. But you have to play all four quarters. The Browns made this an uncomfortable contest in the second half with a punt return for six and another late offensive touchdown. Luckily, the Ravens held on for a win and the lead in the AFC North. Victory did not come without its costs, as starting left guard Marshal Yanda, starting cornerback Cary Williams and kick returner David Reed all left the game never to return. Two questions coming into the game were how receiver Lee Evans and kicker Shayne Graham would fare with Anquan Boldin and Billy Cundiff out with injuries. Graham was solid going 2-for-2 on field goals, but Evans was still quiet and was held without a catch. The offense may have stumbled because of the injuries, but you’d like to see more out of it in the second half and as the Ravens rev up for the playoffs.

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