Dirty Birds – Ravens 25, Browns 15
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CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - Following another deflating loss, Browns players lamented what could’ve been while also expressing frustration at what the Ravens have been able to get away with outside the whistles.
It’s the second time in as many games with Baltimore this season that Browns players complained about extra curricular activities afterwords.
Tempers flared throughout Sunday’s game as several scrums broke out and players had to be separated.
“They’re a nasty team,” safety T.J. Ward said. “That’s just how they play, and I think they get away with a lot on [the offensive] side of the ball.”
Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who made his 2012 debut coming off a pectoral injury, went at it with Ravens guard Marshal Yanda in the first quarter. Yanda’s helmet was ripped off and ended up on the ground.
“I mean, that’s the way I play,” Taylor said. “I ain’t gonna let nobody punk me, you know what I’m saying? I’m going out there and do what I gotta do. I’m gonna play hard every snap.
“Until that clock hits zero, I’m coming hard. I don’t care.”
The Ravens shoved, the Browns pushed back. Back and forth they went which kept the officiating crew busy separating players all afternoon.
“We just let them know from the get-go, it’s not gonna be happening,” Ward said. “You’re not gonna cheap shot us. You’re [not] gonna do the extra blocking after the whistle and act like you were blocking through. You’re not gonna use hands to the face and just let it slide. It’s a bunch of stuff. You’ll sit back and watch the film and you’ll see how they play.
“We just want to be physical too, between the whistle.”
Bottom line, those “dirty birds” play with a streak of nasty that Browns fans are dying to see their team play with every week.
They also win consistently, which the Browns do not.
Can’t Win For Losing: – No matter what coach Pat Shurmur seems to do, he and the Browns just can’t win.
Shurmur gambled on 4th and 2 from their own 28, down 7 with 3:50 to play, 2 timeouts and the 2-minute warning.
“I wanted to get the first down,” Shurmur said of his decision not to punt. “It felt like we had a play that we liked and we didn’t execute it well. That’s why.”
This decision came from the same coach that wouldn’t go for it on 4th down from the Colts 41 with just under 7 minutes to play 3 weeks ago.
“In both situations, the decision didn’t lead us to a victory did it?,” Shurmur said. “That’s why you talk about it. Had we converted it and we moved forward, then it would have been talked about on what a gutsy move it was, right? That’s all. I think it’s fair and I’ll join into it.”
Brandon Weeden’s pass wasn’t in the same area code of Greg Little and the Ravens took over and put the game away with a 43-yard field goal.
Punting would’ve at least given them a chance to come back by forcing a 3 and out.
Not picking up that first down raised the white flag and conceded the game far too soon.
Communication Breakdown: For the first time this season there was a tremendous breakdown in communication between the sideline and offense.
It cost the Browns 3 timeouts as well as any momentum and rhythm.
“We had a couple times when the communication just wasn’t right,” Shurmur admitted. “All the plays are critical enough where we felt like we needed to call timeout and talk about it. We need to get a little smoother with that.”
Shurmur was asked if there were issues with Weeden’s helmet getting the plays.
“No,” Shurmur said. “It was just communication issues that need to get cleaned up.”
Weeden declined comment when asked what the problem was. Very telling.
Those are the type of things that will cost a coach his job.
Still Streaking: With Sunday’s 25-15 win over the Browns, the Ravens extended a few streaks.
Coach John Harbaugh is now 5-0 after a bye week.
The Ravens have won their last 15 games following a loss – an NFL best.
Baltimore has won 10 straight over the Browns and an NFL leading 11 in a row within the division.
Harbaugh Praise: Browns fans who are furious over another loss and of course the 2-7 record find it impossible to see the big picture.
But not the Ravens’ coach. He is seeing it finally come into focus in Cleveland.
“I’ll tell you what, that is a really good football team,” Harbaugh said. “That is a very well coached football team. They are physical, they’re tough, they’re disciplined; they’ve got all the tools. They’re young and they are building something here, so whoever is here from the Cleveland media, write that. Write that.
“That’s a football team, that’s an up and coming team. That’s an AFC North style team, and this was an AFC North style battle.”
The cynics will say of course Harbaugh will be complimentary of the Browns – after all he walks away with 2 wins at their expense every year.
However, Harbaugh is right.
It was a hard fought, good ole fashioned AFC North slugfest. The Ravens won – again – but he realizes that the Browns are on the rise and will be a force for his team to reckon with starting next year.
Mutual Respect: After they joked about it during their respective press conferences last week, running backs Ray Rice and Trent Richardson met and exchanged jerseys after the game.
Richardson ran for 105 yards on a career-high 25 carries. He added 31 receiving yards, while tying a career-best with 6 receptions.
“It felt good to trade jerseys with a beast in Trent Richardson,” Rice said. “So mutual respect on both ends.”
Richardson joined Jacksonville’s Fred Taylor (128 yards on September 20, 1998) as the only rookies to rush for 100 yards against the Ravens.
Rice finished with 98 yards on the ground in the win.