Everything went wrong for the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns, but 25 unanswered points dug the team out of a huge hole to earn a Week 2 victory, 25-20.
Much of the story of the game revolved around Josh McCown, who filled in for the injured Robert Griffin III and played well early in the game. It was a familiar sight for Ravens fans, who watched McCown rack up 457 passing yards and two touchdowns in an overtime win in 2015, but Baltimore shook off the slow start and consistently harassed the veteran quarterback on Sunday.
McCown was hurt, then he wasn’t, then he was hurt again and then he wasn’t. Through all the bumps and bruises, McCown stayed in the game, but he didn’t find another touchdown pass after the first quarter.
McCown doesn’t have the greatest track record of keeping himself out of harm’s way and on Sunday he absorbed big shots from Timmy Jernigan, C.J. Mosley, Michael Pierce and Brent Urban. One hit even sent him to the locker room, but McCown returned before Cody Kessler ever saw the field and the veteran took every snap.
He was the man under center for a final attempt at a game-winning drive in the final three minutes, trying to give the Browns back a lead the team blew earlier in the fourth quarter.
The gutsy performance by McCown is less than ideal for the Browns with Griffin expected to miss most, if not all, of the 2016 season. Cleveland may plan to add another quarterback to the mix, but for now, it’s just Kessler backing up McCown.
And the Ravens gave McCown a rough day, even if it featured 2016 first-round pick Corey Coleman racking up 104 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Baltimore secondary.
The speedy deep threat helped the Browns jump out to their early 20-0 lead with his pair of touchdowns — although one was followed by a blocked extra point that was returned for two points for the Ravens.
It was the first two of 25 consecutive points for the Ravens, who began to chip away at the big Cleveland lead, eventually kicking a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to take a 22-20 lead.
Another Justin Tucker field goal increased the Ravens’ lead to 25-20 with 2:53 remaining, and while McCown was able to lead the Browns deep into Baltimore territory on the final drive, his second interception sealed Cleveland’s fate.
With the win, the Ravens are out to a 2-0 start and tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North. While the Steelers' game against the Cincinnati Bengals was hyped as one of the highlight matchups of the week, it was a sloppy game that didn’t yield the excitement that the other divisional game displayed.
But for the Browns, it didn’t end with the first win of the Hue Jackson and Sashi Brown era in Cleveland.