Coming off of their bye week, many expected the Baltimore Ravens to roll over the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium, but what transpired was very similar to what happened in the first matchup between these two teams in Week 2, only with a different result.
The Browns prevailed 24-18 over the Ravens and a lot of interesting streaks came to an end. Baltimore has lost their first game to Cleveland in their last 12 meetings. It is the first time in the John Harbaugh-Joe Flacco era that the Ravens have fallen at the hands of the Browns. It was going to happen at some point eventually, but some probably didn’t think it would have happened this way.
The Ravens also lost their first game following a bye week in Harbaugh’s tenure. At 3-5, the Ravens are now off to their worst start through the first eight games of the season since 2005, when Baltimore started 2-6.
This one has to hurt the Ravens a tad bit more considering defensive end Terrell Suggs declared a “state of emergency” in the Ravens locker room following their Week 7 loss. It seems like the Ravens didn’t either get the message or that they simply didn’t want to follow Suggs as they don’t believe in him as a leader on this team.
It also has to hurt considering Baltimore lost to Browns quarterback and NFL journeyman Jason Campbell – Campbell was behind Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer at one point for the starting quarterback position.
When it comes down to it, the Ravens really don’t have the horses this year. Flacco was sacked five times and seemed to be hurried all day by the Browns’ stellar front-seven. Baltimore ran the ball just 21 times for a porous 55 yards. While the Ravens’ defense played decently, there are still holes in that secondary as they made Browns receiver Greg Little look like Browns receiver Josh Gordon. Little caught seven passes for 122 yards, while the Ravens limited Gordon to just three catches for 44 yards.
Another frustrating point from this game is that there were no real areas of improvement for the Ravens. “Change” seemed to be the word that was tossed around quite a bit during the bye week, but nothing really seemed all that different for the Ravens today. Sure, not having Kelechi Osemele available for the rest of the season stinks, but good teams find a way to battle through injuries.
Sometimes, the team just doesn’t have the players to do so, and that is partially the case for the Ravens. They have issues all over the field on offense, defense and special teams. However, players are often a reflection of their coach and their team leaders.
There simply isn’t any leadership in this Ravens locker room. Not Joe, not John, not Suggs – there isn’t one person who can step up and rally the troops this year, and the impact of not having Ray Lewis is clearly hurting this team’s will to win.
It may be cliche to say that every championship team gets lucky in some regard, but maybe these Ravens weren’t who we thought they were to begin with. It’s hard to turn the corner for a playoff run after losing to a division foe like the Browns, and Baltimore may be steadily sliding down that slippery slope of a sub-.500 2013.