Coming off their bye, all signs pointed to the Ravens showing some promise as they attempted to get their season back on track. The Ravens are traditionally a team that performs well after the bye week, but Sunday's trip to Cleveland provided anything but tradition.
In a 24-18 loss that wasn't as close as the score would suggest, the Ravens provided few reasons to believe they will right the ship after starting the season 3-5. Their playoff hopes are on life support, and at most they can only suffer two more losses this season to maintain any chance of making the postseason for a sixth consecutive year.
But, there were a few positives that can be taken away from Sunday's loss.
- Rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown rose to the occasion and carried a struggling Ravens pass attack. After two touchdown-less games, Brown added two more touchdowns to his resume, bringing his season total to five. He caught five passes for 54 yards on Sunday, which isn't an impactful stat line. But, he was noticeably quarterback Joe Flacco's go-to guy in high-pressure situations, and Brown was able to step up during multiple crucial plays.
- The offensive line was still bad, but some players showed improvement. Once again left tackle Eugene Monroe was Baltimore's best offensive lineman on Sunday, and he is the least of Baltimore's offensive line worries. Left guard A.Q Shipley and center Gino Gradkowski both held their own, particularly in pass protection. Shipley did have one play in which he failed to get around the offensive line laterally in order to block Browns safety T.J. Ward, though. Right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Michael Oher both had forgettable performances.
- Rookie linebacker Arthur Brown stepped up during crucial situations, however his limited playing time is a head-scratcher. He was on the field for just 14 defensive snaps, but his presence was felt on third down, particularly when he chased down Browns quarterback Jason Campbell, even though the play was negated by a Haloti Ngata penalty. Perhaps sooner or later the Ravens coaching staff will realize Brown needs to be on the field more.
Kyle Casey is a sports writer living in Baltimore, Md. He is the co-editor of Baltimore Ravens Draft and contributes to Russell Street Report.
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