Photo Credit: Ron Schwane/AP
Another week in the NFL has come and gone, but not without a finale for the ages.
Normally, I go through the entire week of the NFL that has passed us by, with different stats and figures from around the league. For this week only, the focus is going to be on the heavyweight shootout between the Browns and Ravens from Monday Night Football.
Baltimore was victorious in Cleveland 47-42. No doubt, this was the game of the year in the NFL thus far.
Cleveland came into the game at 9-3 and were looking to take a big step forward under the bright lights, in prime time football. The Browns played a meaningful game IN DECEMBER for the first time in ages, and while they came up short, they proved they belonged with the who’s who of the NFL for the 2020 season. Baker Mayfield balled out and did everything in his power to put his team in position. The Browns proved they are not a fraudulent team, despite coming up just short.
If you think this team is fraudulent or that Mayfield isn’t the quarterback the Browns have been clamoring for since the return in 1999, then you are simply a hater or don’t watch the games.
The Ravens got a much-needed victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, despite not having Lamar Jackson for most of the fourth quarter due to what is being called cramps. He returned on a fourth-and-five with a little over two minutes to go and threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Marquise Brown, who had struggled all game long. J.K. Dobbins plowed in for the two-point conversion to put the Ravens up 42-25
Mayfield and the Browns did not flinch, as they drove 75 yards down the field in just four plays capped off by a touchdown pass of 22 yards to running back Kareem Hunt with 1:10 left to play. The 12,000 faithful at FirstEnergy, who was electric all night long, sounding like 70,000, were going nuts.
However, the Ravens got the ball back with too much time left on the clock. Jackson completed passes to Mark Andrews for 14 yards, Andrews again for another 14 yards, Willie Snead for six yards, and then Andrews one last time for four yards. His next attempt was incomplete due to a spike of the ball. Out marched Justin Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, and he booted the game-winning 55-yard field goal with two seconds left. Cleveland tried all sorts of backward passes, but Jarvis Landry was pushed out of the back of the end zone for a safety making the final 47-42.
The Ravens improved to 8-5 while the Browns dropped to 9-4.
If you’re a Cleveland fan, despite the loss, there is a lot to be happy and proud about. At multiple points in the game, the Browns had defensive lapses and it seemed like Jackson and company would make the game a rout, much like in Week 1, especially after the half as the Ravens drove 70 yards on just four plays, capped off by a Gus Edwards 19-yard scamper for a score. 28-14 Browns and teams of the past two decades would’ve folded.
However, these aren’t the same old Browns.
Mayfield and the Browns offense were methodical, mixing the pass and the run games in route to an 11-play, 75-yard drive where Hunt rushed in from five yards out. Cody Parkey missed the point after attempt, after missing a field goal try earlier in the game, to make the score 28-20.
After forcing a Ravens punt, the Browns were in business again. However, Mayfield threw his first interception in his last five and a half games, which was essentially a pick-six as J.K. Dobbins rushed in from a yard out. Tucker missed the extra point, a rarity. Cleveland responded with a touchdown, a three-and-out on defense, and another touchdown, this time on the legs of Mayfield. The two-point conversion was good and the Browns had the lead for the first time since the opening drive.
Despite all the fireworks, the Browns came up short. But there are a lot of silver linings. Mayfield played arguably his most complete game of the season, throwing for a season-high 343 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception while rushing for another touchdown. After throwing the third-quarter interception, Mayfield was nearly flawless. He continued to lead his team back from double-digit deficits. He proved why he is the franchise quarterback of the Browns for a long while.
Despite the loss, the Browns are still the fifth seed in the AFC and control their own destiny. With upcoming games against the Giants on Sunday Night Football and then the Jets a week later. Week 17 will have a showdown with the Steelers, who could potentially rest their starters. Cleveland can easily go 3-0 to end the season and finish 12-4.
For Baltimore, winning out is likely going to be how they make the playoffs this season. Give them all the credit in the world. They found a way to beat a surging Browns team and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Notes from the Monday Night Showdown
- Jackson rushed for 124 yards, the most by a quarterback in Monday Night Football history
- Hunt leads all running backs with five games of at least one receiving touchdown
- Cleveland has rushed for 100+ yards in 11 out of 13 games this season
- Baltimore is now 25-2 when leading at halftime with Jackson as the starter
- The Ravens rushed for over 200 yards for the 13th time since the start of the 2019 season, the most such games in the NFL in that span
- The two teams combined for 35 4th quarter points and 12 combined touchdowns in the game
- Chubb joined Hall of Famer Jim Brown as the only Browns players with 8+ rushing touchdowns in each of their first three seasons
Game. Of. The. Year.
AFC: 1. Chiefs-Z (12-1) 2. Steelers-X (11-2) 3. Bills (10-3) 4. Titans (9-4) 5. Browns (9-4) 6. Colts (9-4) 7. Dolphins (8-5) 8. Ravens (8-5) 9. Raiders (7-6)
NFC: 1. Packers-Z (10-3) 2. Saints-X (10-3) 3. Rams (9-4) 4. Washington (6-7) 5. Seahawks (9-4) 6. Buccaneers (8-5) 7. Cardinals (7-6) 8. Vikings (6-7) 9. Bears (6-7)
Z= clinched division X= clinched playoff spot
Notable Week 15 Matchups
Browns (9-4) @ Giants (5-8) – Sunday Night Football 8:20 PM NBC
Seahawks (9-4) @ Washington (6-7) – 1 PM FOX
Bears (6-7) @ Vikings (6-7) – 1 PM FOX
Patriots (6-7) @ Dolphins (8-5) – CBS
Eagles (4-8-1) @ Cardinals (7-6) – 4:05 PM FOX
Chiefs (11-1) @ Saints (10-3) – 4:25 PM CBS
That wraps it up for Week 14. Next week I’ll be back with more stats and figures from Week 15 unless a game is able to top the Browns and Ravens game, which is highly unlikely. Hit me up on Twitter @KingEdward15 and let me know how you’re feeling about your team’s playoff hopes.