“Our defense was very focused, we knew what we had to do to win this game and it’s [Baltimore] a good team and we knew it was going to take everything we had to come out here and get a win.” Browns LB Paul Kruger
There are plenty of good stories to be found on the offensive side of the ball after Cleveland’s big win over the Ravens Sunday afternoon. Davone Bess, Greg Little and Jason Campbell come to mind quickly. However, the underrated story of the game was Cleveland’s defense.
The Browns did put together four solid quarters of defense against the Ravens. Something LB Paul Kruger knows was important.
“We had a lot of nice momentum going. We had some big stops.” said Kruger. “They made good plays; that’s a great team we faced. We did what it took to win the game and golly, it just feels good. I think we’ve come up short a few times in the past couple weeks and so, this one means a lot, because not only did we do what we know we can do, at the same time it’s a conference game.”
What “it took” to win the game was making Baltimore one-dimensional. The Browns keyed in on the Ravens running game and made them pass the ball in order to win. Cleveland held Ray Rice to 17 yards rushing on just 11 carries. It seemed like every time Rice touched the ball, safety T.J. Ward was in his face and bringing him down for a minimal gain.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh praised the Browns after the game for shutting down the run.
“That’s a good front, they did a great job. We felt by spreading them out we would give ourselves a chance to run the ball. For the most part they stayed in a seven man box against the spread look we gave them. We’ve got to be able to throw against it. We have to be able to make plays in the passing game.” Harbaugh continued, “It’s tough to run against that look, but I still think we can run against anyone. But that was the story of the game, it was ‘single hot’ from them the whole game.”
That ‘single hot’ look meant that if Baltimore was going to have success, one of their wide receivers was going to have to beat the man across from him and make a big play. The Ravens did make a few of those plays, but just not enough against a defense that pressured Joe Flacco into a terrible interception and sacked him five times.
One of the players that was getting pressure on Flacco was rookie defensive lineman Armonty Bryant. Bryant was the seventh round selection that impressed the front office with his athleticism, and keeps making the most of his opportunities when he gets into games.
“It feels pretty good. Any opportunity that they put me on the field I’m just going to take advantage of it.”
Paul Kruger called Bryant “off the charts” and added, “He couldn’t be blocked today.”
Bryant had one sack in the game, and had another called back on a defensive holding penalty in the secondary. The sack that counted was his second of the season. Bryant is one of fifteen Browns that have recorded a sack this year.
Joe Haden got his first interception of the season, and was proud of the way the defense battled.
“We had to fight the whole game. At the end of the first half, that’s not how we wanted to go into halftime. We came back out, on the first drive their offense had the ball- no points. We made sure they had to punt the ball. We felt it this whole game, that we just want them to lose. No matter what was going on, we just felt like we needed to win this game.”
(Photo- Joshua Gunter/The Plain Dealer)