By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO
A sloppy win is a win nonetheless.
In a Week 12 AFC North showdown at M&T Bank Stadium, the Baltimore Ravens hosted the Cleveland Browns in what turned out to be one of the more less-than-savory performances for both teams. However, the Ravens took control early and maintained a narrow lead for the duration of the game, holding on for a 16-10 home win over the Browns on Sunday night.
In quarterback Lamar Jackson’s first game back off of an illness, he threw a career-high four interceptions which became one of the biggest headlines around the NFL this week.
Jackson seemingly didn’t let the miscues frustrate him too much and finished 20-of-32 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown to help lead Baltimore to its second straight win.
“We’re determined. We know we want to win,” Jackson said.
“It’s a hard division. We’re in one of the tougher divisions, but we fight adversity. We do it all. There’s been a lot going on throughout this whole season, and tonight was another part of it. We just have to keep on doing what we’re doing, and we’re going to click.”
Both teams traded one touchdown each. The difference on the scoreboard were the field goals — Baltimore made three to Cleveland’s one. Tucker came up big again for the Ravens with field goals from 52 yards, 25 yards and 49 yards out on their way to the close victory.
Three of Jackson’s four interceptions came in the second quarter, and the Ravens were up 6-3 at the half. He bounced back with two remarkable passing plays to open the second half.
The Ravens took a 13-3 lead after Jackson made a spectacular 13-yard touchdown pass off his backfoot to an open Mark Andrews, which was set up by a 39-yard connection between the two just three snaps prior. The 13 and 39-yard plays between Jackson and Andrews were probably the offensive highlights of the evening for Baltimore.
Neither team played spotless. Missed field goals, fumbles and interceptions over the course of the night largely disrupted the offensive fluidity for both the Ravens and the Browns.
Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield hooked up with David Njoku for a 20-yard touchdown to conclude the third quarter, closing the deficit to 13-10. Baltimore’s defense held the Browns scoreless in the fourth, posting another vigorous performance.
Besides preventing the Browns — one of the league’s leading rushing teams — from putting any points on the board in the final 15 minutes, the Ravens’ defensive front held their opponent to a season-low 40 rushing yards. Browns running back Nick Chubb, a two-time Pro Bowler, ran for only 16 yards on eight carries as the team struggled to establish a ground game.
Linebacker Tyus Bowser made the game-clinching tackle when forced a turnover on downs, stopping Njoku just short of picking up a first down with less than a minute remaining. The fifth-year player has been an immense contributor for Baltimore this season and finished with four tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss in the big win.
“Defense was just off the charts. I mean, that’s one of the best defensive performances that we’ve seen out here in a long time,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said.
“To hold that offense down the way they did, to hold that rushing attack down the way they did, the play-action passing game that they have, the boots, the hard play-actions, the chunk passes, they had a few, but I thought our guys played tremendously well across the board on defense.”
Aside from the turnovers, Jackson, once again, was the game-leading rusher with 68 yards on 17 carries as the Ravens improve to 8-3 overall and remain atop the AFC North division.
Another important divisional game awaits the Ravens as they will prepare to square off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13 before rematching against the Browns in Week 14. Next week’s matchup at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field is scheduled for Dec. 5 at 4:25 p.m.
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