CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns might be a long shot to make the playoffs, but any win is important for the team as they continue working quarterback Deshaun Watson into the mix. On Saturday against their divisional opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, a 13-3 win came with some major moments.
Here are the top moments that impacted the game.
1. Offensive drive killer
The Browns were slow to start on Sunday on offense, going 3-and-out on their opening drive. But on their second possession, things started to ramp up. Watson was able to get some connections with Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Njoku.
But on first-and-10, the Ravens were able to sack Watson, moving them back seven yards. That moment was ultimately a drive killer, and while the Browns were able to move the chains some, it wasn't enough for a first down. The positive was that Cade York was able to put points on the board with a 47-yard field goal.
2. Rare Justin Tucker miss
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is known for his ability to make nearly any kick he attempts. He's basically automatic. But on Saturday heading into the half, Tucker kicked his 48-yard attempt wide left, gifting the Browns a 6-3 lead headed to the locker room.
2. Denzel Ward INT
Tucker's miss may have been a motivator for the Ravens to get some points on the board quick having the ball coming out of the half, but cornerback Denzel Ward made sure that didn't happen.
On third-and-10 at Cleveland's 15-yard line, Ward made a remarkable play on the ball, essentially ripping it from DeSean Jackson's hands.
“There was man coverage on that one. The guys put good pressure on the quarterback. I was able to drive on it and get my hands on it," Ward said.
It not only prevented the Ravens from scoring a touchdown and taking a lead, it also put the ball back in the hands of the offense for the next crucial moment of the game.
3. Capitalizing on opportunities
Watson and his offense took over after Ward's interception and looked to get a drive going that resulted in more than a field goal. It didn't look like that might happen in the first few plays of the drive with the Browns finding themselves in a third-and-seven situation deep in their own territory. But, another opportunity presented itself in the form of a Ravens facemask that reset the downs and moved them up to the 27-yard line.
From there, Watson got back in his groove. Big runs from Nick Chubb complemented big passes to Cooper, rookie Michael Woods II and ended with a quick pass to Peoples-Jones in the end zone.
That moment late in the third quarter was a taste of what the Browns offense will be able to do if they can put together strong drives and capitalize on opportunities given to them in anyway they can get.
4. Taking the takeaways
Late in the third quarter, Browns safety John Johnson III stopped a Ravens offensive drive before it could really even begin. Two weeks ago against the Texans, Johnson had a takeaway quite literally fall into his lap. A ball popped out of the receiver's hands and into his.
On Saturday against the Ravens, Johnson worked for his takeaway, punching the ball out of Demarcus Robinson's hands, forcing a fumble that he recovered himself.
"I've been punching at the ball all year, hurting my fingers, so it feels good that the ball plopped on the floor and Greg [Newome II] was joking to me and he said 'I could have picked it up and scored' and I'm like 'Look, I punched it out, I can recover it.' So it was just a good play," Johnson said of the moment.
While the Browns weren't able to score after getting the ball back (York missed a field goal attempt at the end of the drive) it was still enough that the Browns held the Ravens off from scoring on yet another possession.
5. Blocked by Elliott
The final moment that impacted the game in a big way was on special teams early in the fourth quarter. While Tucker had already uncharacteristically missed one field goal on Saturday, that wasn't enough for the Browns special teams unit.
After the Browns defense shut down the Ravens drive, Tucker was out for a 50-yard field goal attempt. For many kickers, that feels long. For Tucker, that's a piece of cake. That was until Jordan Elliott came into the picture.
Elliott showed off his vertical, going airborne and knocking down Tucker's kick, which ultimately sealed the fate of the Ravens, who would go on to stall out on their next two possessions—thanks in part to back-to-back sacks by Myles Garrett on their last drive.
The Browns want to win out and while their postseason fate would be entirely out of the hands if they did make that happen, they're still playing for something—more successful moments like the five above that can help get this team connected with a new quarterback for a full season in 2023.
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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