Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ravens vs. Browns: Baltimore Playoff-Bound After 20-10 Win in Cleveland

The battle of the old Browns (the Baltimore Ravens) and the new Browns took place on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Ravens could taste postseason while the Browns looked to play the role of the spoiler. However, Baltimore won the game in a convincing 20-10 victory, clinching its third consecutive playoff berth.

In their last meeting, Browns running back Peyton Hillis scorched the Ravens while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw three touchdowns to Anquan Boldin.

However, they were all held in check on Sunday. Boldin mustered two catches for 15 yards with no touchdowns, while Flacco finished 12-of-19 passing for 102 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Ravens controlled matters with their running game and Baltimore safety Ed Reed grabbed two interceptions as Baltimore forced four turnovers in the contest.

The win gave Baltimore its longest streak of making the postseason in franchise history.

Some thoughts on the game:

• The matchup between Hillis and the Ravens' defense was in full effect as they collided on the first two opening plays of the game. However, in the second series, Hillis took a hard hit shot in the ribs by Baltimore safety Ed Reed. The hit forced Hillis out of the game for a few plays and eventually returned. Hillis finished the game with 35 yards on 12 carries.

• The Browns went into one of their wildcat formations to put some points on the board first. In the first quarter with 2:12 left, the Browns went in motion with quarterback Seneca Wallace in shotgun formation to setup a misdirection play. Wallace handed the ball off to Hillis, who then pitched the ball out to wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. The former Georgia Bulldog then threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie near the corner of the endzone. It was an impressive play.

• The Ravens then struck back quickly with 13-unanswered points. After going on a 16-play drive spanning 80 yards to get three points, the Ravens recovered a loose ball on the Browns' next possession after cornerback Chris Carr caused Massaquoi to fumble near the sideline. The ball mysteriously stayed in play, allowing linebacker Jameel McClain to scoop it up and gain nine yards. Three plays later, Flacco connected with wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a 15-yard touchdown on a post route. Baltimore added another three points before Browns' kicker Phil Dawson (the only Brown left from the Cleveland's expansion team in 1999) capped the half with a 30-yard field goal, which made it a 13-10.

• In the first quarter, Flacco became the sixth player in NFL history to have thrown for 10,000 yards in three seasons. Flacco accomplished that feat on a second-and-7 play as he hooked-up with wide receiver Derrick Mason for 10 yards, converting a first down.

• After Cleveland attempted an onside kick that backfired on the opening kickoff of the half. The ball went out of bounds before it went the full ten yards needed for the Browns to recover the ball. Three plays later, the Ravens went on a play-action play, faking an end-the-round, when Flacco threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason.

• While Baltimore ended one long streak, they continued another streak by going 24 straight games without allowing a touchdown in the third quarter.

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