The Ravens knew things would be different this year after the Super Bowl champions saw a number of notable names leave via free agency and retirement, but repeating might be tougher than they thought. Luckily for Baltimore, it avoided an 0-2 start after beating the Browns, 14-6, on Sunday.
Joe Flacco and the Ravens remained scoreless midway through the third quarter until Bernard Pierce scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to give Baltimore a 7-6 lead. Flacco hit Marlon Brown for a touchdown with 8:57 to go to make it 14-6 and the Browns were unable to score again. Cleveland struggled to score all game long, but things got especially difficult when Jason Campbell replaced Brandon Weeden for the final drive.
Weeden injured his thumb and was taken to the locker room to be evaluated. Campbell went 1-of-4 for 6 yards and the Ravens were able to run out the clock after the Browns turned it over on downs. Weeden was 21-of-33 for 227 yards, without a touchdown or an interception.
Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron had another productive game, catching five passes for 95 yards. Cameron now has 203 yards through two games and is emerging as a major weapon on Rob Chudzinski's offense, even though that offense has now scored just 16 points this year.
Baltimore's offense also has some questions to answer after struggling for much of the game against the Browns.
Ray Rice ran for 36 yards on 13 carries with a fumble and was taken to the locker room with a hip injury. While there were some concerns at the time that Rice went down, it appears to not be anything serious and there is no MRI scheduled on Rice. Pierce had 57 yards on 19 carries in relief.
Flacco improved in the second half to finish 22-of-33 for 211 yards and a touchdown, but the quarterback with the record contract hasn't looked as spectacular as he did in the playoffs last year without receiver Anquan Boldin. Torrey Smith had a good performance, however, catching seven passes for 85 yards, while Brown caught a touchdown for the second straight week.
Maybe the Ravens aren't the same team they were last season, but at least they were able to pull out a win while they figure out who they are.
Fantasy studs and duds
There were no real fantasy stars in this game, with just two touchdowns scored. Bernard Pierce had 57 rushing yards to go with the touchdown. Marlon Brown hauled in Joe Flacco's touchdown pass, though Torrey Smith led the team with 85 receiving yards.
Browns tight end Jordan Cameron led all receivers with 95 yards. Brandon Weeden passed for 227 yards and was sacked five times.
Ray Rice went down with a hip injury late in the game. Brandon Weeden left the game in the fourth quarter with a right thumb injury, but X-rays came back negative.
Did they cover?
The Ravens opened as 6-point favorites and saw some books move the line to 7 points and others to 5.5. Baltimore safely covered with the eight-point victory.
Cleveland at Minnesota Vikings, Sept. 22, 1 p.m. ET
Baltimore vs. Houston Texans, Sept. 22, 1 p.m. ET