BLT-CLE grades: Ravens sneak past Browns despite errors
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Ravens’ 33-27 victory over the Browns:
– A writer for a soap opera couldn’t have thought up the last seven days for the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback room, with the starter demoted for partying, the returning starter suffering a potential season-ending injury, and the former third stringer nearly leading a fourth quarter comeback win in relief. Josh McCown (+1.0) was on the money in the short passing game, taking what the Ravens gave him. Austin Davis (0.0) then connected on the game-tying score, exploiting a coverage bust to find Travis Benjamin before nearly throwing the game away after Matt Schaub’s second interception. Chaos reigns in Cleveland: does Davis start next week or has the door opened for Johnny Manziel to redeem himself?
– Collecting his first interception since picking off Peyton Manning twice in Week 6, Karlos Dansby (+1.9) once again showed his instincts in coverage with his pick-six to pull the Browns ahead early in the third quarter. This was Dansby’s eighth game with a positive coverage grade this season, and while his form as a run defender may have slipped, he is still one of the better coverage linebackers in the NFL.
– The Browns gave a second career start to first-round pick Cameron Erving, and things went no better for the former Seminole against the Ravens (-2.3) than they did against the Steelers (-1.4) two weeks ago. Getting to grips with veteran defensive end Chris Canty (+3.2) proved to be the biggest difficulty for Erving last night, with Canty accounting for four of the five pressures (two hits, three hurries) Erving surrendered.
DE Desmond Bryant (+3.3)
LT Joe Thomas (+3.2)
C Alex Mack (+3.2)
TE Gary Barnidge (+2.2)
ILB Karlos Dansby (+1.9)
– The biggest positives to draw from this game for both teams was the play of their young running backs, and Javorius Allen (+2.6) certainly shined when given the chance to start in the absence of both Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro. Allen put in solid work as a runner, gaining nearly 3 yards per carry after contact on his 12 carries, adding to that with strong work as a receiver, notably on his touchdown catch, forging a path between four Browns defenders to put the Ravens up two scores early in the second quarter.
– Since being cut by the 49ers after a dire game against his new employers in Week 6, Shareece Wright has really turned his season around, and he produced one of the best games of his career last night. That would have been even better, had he not been involved in the coverage bust on Travis Benjamin’s (+0.5) game-tying score. Wright only broke up one pass, but was consistently in position to make a stop on catches or crowding the receiver to prevent a completion without playing the ball, allowing only four completions on his 13 targets.
– Thanks to Cleveland finding a way to lose (as is their unfortunate habit), Matt Shaub’s (-4.6) two dreadful interceptions did not cost the Ravens the game. Appearing in only his second game since leaving Houston at the end of 2013, Schaub predictably tossed a pick-six to Karlos Dansby early in the third quarter before telegraphing a pass in the final minute of the game to Kamar Aiken (+2.4) which Tramon Williams (+0.3) jumped for what might have been a decisive turnover, before Brent Urban and Will Hill bailed him out with another memorable Monday Night Football moment.
RG Marshal Yanda (+4.4)
DE Chris Canty (+3.2)
HB Javorius Allen (+2.6)
CB Shareece Wright (+2.2)
WR Kamar Aiken (+2.4)