Flacco, aggressive defense lifts Ravens past Browns
BALTIMORE - Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is impressed with the attitude of his team.
After another dominant performance, several players voiced some frustration about costly mistakes and several miscues that could eventually hurt them. For now, though, Harbaugh is not griping about Baltimore’s solid start to the season.
Joe Flacco threw a pair of touchdown passes and the Ravens forced five turnovers for the second straight game in a 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
“The thing I liked about the mindset in the locker room after the game is that our guys were pretty hacked off about the fact we didn’t play as error-free as we should and we need to,” Harbaugh said. “I give the Browns a lot of credit. (Cleveland head coach) Hue Jackson is a game-planner. The plus side of that is our guys really don’t blink. They’re resilient, tough and they just keep playing. They’re confident that they’ll make a big play and make a stop. That’s what you want.”
Baltimore did suffer a big blow when six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda was ruled out for the season with a fracture in his ankle, Harbaugh said after the game.
Flacco completed 25 of 34 pass attempts for 217 yards and an interception. He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 11 consecutive games against the Browns and improved to 16-2 all-time against them.
The Ravens are 2-0 for the second straight year, while Cleveland fell to 0-2.
“It was fun,” Flacco said. “It was good to get going. I was a little disappointed in myself. I feel one of the things I can do is stay pretty patient when I go out there and play. Today, I felt like it got the best of me a little bit. We had some guys running open. I thought a couple of plays I was trying to do a little too much.”
Cleveland rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was sidelined with a migraine midway through the second quarter. Kevin Hogan, a second-year player from Stanford, entered and orchestrated a scoring drive.
Kizer returned in the third quarter, but could not lead a comeback. He completed 15 of 31 passes for 182 yards with three interceptions and was sacked twice.
“I have to be much more accurate,” Kizer said. “Baltimore’s defensive backs are very good and they do a great job catching the ball. But a good quarterback has to be accurate to get his team to win.”
The Ravens’ defense came up with a big play when linebacker Terrell Suggs had a strip sack on Kizer and linebacker Matt Judon recovered on the Browns’ 33 midway through the opening quarter. Suggs has 18 sacks and nine forced fumbles against Cleveland — the most against any one team during his career.
“You can’t turn the ball over against this team,” Jackson said. “We can’t give them that type of field position or take points off the board when you have a chance to make plays.”
Cleveland linebacker Christian Kirksey also had a personal-foul penalty on the next drive that gave Baltimore the ball on the 4. Terrance West scored on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
Cleveland had four penalties last week in the opener against Pittsburgh. The Browns had four in the first quarter in Baltimore.
The Ravens boosted the lead to 14-0 with 7:17 left in the half on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Javorius “Buck” Allen.
Cleveland got a spark from Hogan, who completed a 49-yard pass to Seth DeValve with his first attempt. He then pulled the Browns to within seven points with a 25-yard touchdown pass to David Njoku. That was the first points Baltimore allowed this season.
Baltimore safety Eric Weddle had an interception, but admitted the team has to do a better job in coverage and not allow so many big plays.
“If we don’t fix those mistakes, it’s going to hurt us down the road,” Weddle said.
Hogan was 5 of 11 for 118 yards with a touchdown. He had a costly interception with just under a minute left in the half when Ravens rookie linebacker Tyus Bowser jumped a route and returned the ball to the Cleveland 40. Allen had a 37-yard run and Flacco threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin.
The teams traded a pair of short field goals in the second half. The Browns advanced to the Ravens’ 3 early in the fourth quarter, but Kizer was intercepted in the end zone by safety Lardarius Webb. Kizer threw another costly interception to cornerback Brandon Carr with 6:09 left in the game.
“We didn’t win,” Browns cornerback Jason McCourty said. “It wasn’t good enough. We didn’t do a good job of adjusting to quick changes on possession. We left too many plays out there. We expect more of ourselves.”
NOTES: Ravens CB Brandon Carr made his 146th consecutive start — the longest streak in the NFL among defensive players. He was acquired as a free agent in the offseason and also had an interception in the opener ... Browns WR Rashard Higgins, who was signed from the practice squad Saturday, caught seven passes for 95 yards. ... Baltimore improved to 15-2 at home in the month of September under head coach John Harbaugh.