Browns @ Ravens 12-17-06

e-mail Pete

1:03 PM

The Browns and Ravens in week 15. Two teams going in completely opposite directions.. Cleveland is pretty easy to pick on with continued ineptitude on offense despite solid draft picks, and a defense that gets pushed around like George Costanza at a high school reunion.

But the NFL makes so little sense this year anything can happen. The upsets and inconsistent play throughout the league are the only consistencies. San Francisco going into Seattle on a Thursday night and drilling the Seahawks by 10 makes sense like Paris Hilton winning the Nobel Prize for quantum physics.

I say all that as a caveat for my prediction given on WBAL Radio. Logic says the Ravens just kill the Browns.. I think they earn their 3rd shut out of the season 24-0. But would I be surprised if somehow Cleveland won the game? Not this year.

Notes entering the game: The Ravens can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win. Here are the playoff scenarios..

Ravens running back Musa Smith is placed on injured reserve for the 3rd straight season, this time with a neck injury. Derek Anderson starts at quarterback for Cleveland, his 2nd career start. And in a very cool gesture, the Ravens had the state champion football teams from Dunbar and Edmondson take part in the welcome line for pregame introductions on the field. Had to be the thrill of a lifetime for about 100 kids.

1:12 PM

Nice job Pete, nine minutes in and the shut out is over. After a less than impressive 3 and out for the Ravens, the Browns drove 43 yards setting up a Phil Dawson 51 yard field goal. The bulk of the drive coming on a 36 yard completion from Anderson to Kellen Winslow.

The Ravens just went 3 and out again. I think Al Franken just invited Rush Limbaugh over for tea.

1:21 PM

Steve McNair’s right hand was stepped on by a Browns defender. He has gone to the locker room for x-rays. Kyle Boller warms up on the sidelines. As if on cue, the Ravens defense picks up the pace, picking off Anderson. Dawan Landry returns it to the Cleveland 16. But no doubt, a strangely warm day in Baltimore just got a little chilly.

1:26 PM

Steve McNair has returned to the sidelines just in time to watch Jamal Lewis go seven barely touched yards for his 8th touchdown of the season. X-rays are negative on McNair’s hand, his return to the game announced as probable. That sets off a collective “whew” in the press box. Either that of Peter Schmuck is still digesting his lunch.

1:39 PM

Steve McNair can play if neccessary, but when he takes a snap the cut on top of his right hand opens up a little bit. So at least for the time being, Kyle Boller runs the show.

2:04 PM

Kyle Boller led the Ravens on a magnificent 85 yard drive capped by his nine yard touchdown to Ovie Mughelli. Boller to Mughelli. One more time: Boller to Mughelli. Glad to see my thesis for today’s game holds true. However a quarterback controversy is hardly in the works. Since that drive, Boller has thrown an interception and fumbled a snap. His three years at the helm have been neatly summed up by his play today. Occasionally great, but mostly unreliable.

2:24 PM

The Ravens appear to be fortunate in regards to Steve McNair’s injury. But the good fortune ended just before half time. Cornerback Samari Rolle injured his left shoulder trying to tackle Braylon Edwards, and it looks bad. The left side of his torso just went limp. A huge part of their success this season goes to not missing starters. Only Edwin Mulitalo has been lost for the year. Losing Rolle is a tremendous blow to their chances for a deep run in the playoffs. Evan Oglesby replaced him and immediately surrendered a touchdown catch to Joe Jurevicious. 17-10 Ravens at the half.

3:03 PM

The engergy of this game is completely different from the first 20 minutes. Since the injury to Rolle, the Ravens just seem lethargic. Rolle’s replacement Evan Oglesby has given up another touchdown, this time to Braylon Edwards. It’s not all his fault, Derek Anderson had plenty of time to throw. His numbers are staggering so far. 18-21, 198 yards, 2 TD, INT makes for quite a stat line. It’s a 17-17 game. Kyle Boller, it’s now your turn to match a 6th round draft pick pass for pass.

3:34 PM

The match game is on. Boller, on 3rd and 10 from his own 23, unleashed a bomb 60 yards in the air hitting Demetrius Williams in stride for a 77 yard touchdown. The first career TD for Williams was a vision. It gave the Ravens a 24-17 lead, but this game continues with a strange vibe. Cleveland could definitely steal a win. Boller has also made enough mistakes to let you know a game killer is any play away, even Jamal Lewis put it ohn the ground from what was barely a hit. 9:08 remaining the game and I’m about to go down and watch the rest from the field. Will wrap things up later tonight..

8:30 PM

By the time I reached the field Boller had safely avoided any disasters and the Ravens held on 27-17, clinching a spot in the playoffs. The post game press conferences and locker room interviews felt like an office Christmas party. Everyone is very friendly, in a good mood, but it’s not a massive celebration. Reaching the post season just means checking off one of many lines on the Ravens to do list. Next up, first round bye.


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