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Commentary: Browns defense a disaster, drags down heroic offense in 47-42 loss to Ravens

Stat of the night: The Browns’ offense gained almost half a thousand yards — and they lost.

No, really.

Read ’em and weep: 493 total yards gained, 355 yards passing, 33 first downs, 42 points scored — and they lost.

Is that even possible?

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Yep — when you have to depend on a gassed, confused and overmatched defense that by the end of the game was sucking wind, and all the life out of FirstEnergy Stadium.

Half a thousand yards gained, and you come away with an “L.”

I mean, seriously?

What the L?

How can the offense play so spectacularly, so heroically, only to lose because the defense couldn’t defend a 42-42 tie for 64 seconds. OK, they could have lost in overtime, too, but still.

This 47-42 avalanche will be hard to forget. But it’s on to the Giants, whom the Browns seem reasonably likely to beat if they gain half a thousand yards.

Monday night, half a thousand wasn’t enough.

Not against the hated Ravens, who playground-balled their way to a victory because the Browns’ defense spent most of the night getting in its own way instead of the Ravens’ way.

Ravens 47, Browns 42: Cleveland drops heartbreaker as Lamar Jackson makes too many big plays

After the Browns’ offense capped a four-play, 75-yard emergency touchdown march with a spectacular catch-and-run by Kareem Hunt, it was 42-42, and the Browns were only 64 seconds from overtime.

Then all “L” broke loose.

Following the kickoff, Baltimore started the drive at its 25-yard line. Quarterback Lamar Jackson then completed four consecutive passes, for 14, 14, 6, and 4 yards, then kicker Justin Tucker trotted onto the field and casually drilled a 55-yard field goal through the uprights, and the Browns’ hearts.

And that was that.

The Browns’ offensive palooza goes to waste as the Ravens ran roughshod over a Browns’ defense that never really showed up.

What the L?

To be fair, the ridiculously athletic Jackson, the reigning MVP in the NFL, is a load for any defense. The problem is the Browns’ defense too often isn’t much of a load for any offense.

Granted, it is missing some key pieces, chief among those being cornerback Denzel Ward, whose replacement, M.J. Stewart Jr., committed two penalties on the Ravens’ first possession and struggled in coverage most of the night.

But he wasn’t alone. Myles Garrett, who in the opening game was neutralized by Ravens tackle Orlando Brown, was no factor at all. The overall tackling was shoddy, the confusion on coverages by the defensive backs led to too many wide-open receivers and, well, the 47 points allowed sort of speaks for itself.

Hey, Kevin Stefanski can’t fix it all in one year.

The Browns’ defense has been a problem for much of the year, but Monday night all of its shortcomings were magnified in a game in which the Browns scored enough points to win two games but couldn’t even win one.

It’s not like the Ravens’ defense put on a clinic. At one point the Ravens’ defense was penalized for having 15 players on the field. For much of the game the Browns’ defense looked like it only had about eight players on the field.

For most of the evening the elusive Jackson did pretty much whatever he wanted to do, and what he wanted to do was not throw the ball. That’s a wise decision because, well, have you ever seen Jackson run with the ball?

Case closed.

At halftime, the Browns had more sacks (four) than Jackson had completions (three) — and the Browns were losing 21-14.

Is that even possible?

On a night when the impossible seemed to be the norm, the answer is yes.

The Browns’ offense did its best to try to score as many, or more, points as its defense was giving up. But the defense won, and the team lost.

Penalties are also becoming an unexpected problem. After being near the top of the league in fewest penalties in the first half of the season, the Browns have been called for 21 penalties in the last two games. They had eight for 75 yards Monday night, but that wasn’t as big a problem as the lack of defense.

The bright side was the offense, which hung 42 points on a Ravens defense that held it to a pitiful six points in that season-opening 38-6 thrashing that the Browns on Monday night tried but failed to avenge.

Baker Mayfield’s five-game no-interceptions streak ended, but he also threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Hunt and Nick Chubb combined to rush for 115 yards and three touchdowns, but the Ravens rushed through the Browns’ rush through-able defense for a whopping 231 yards.

It was a good, old-fashion shootout in which it quickly became clear that it was going to be won by the team with the less-worse defense.

That team wasn’t the Browns.

 

Jim Ingraham is a sports columnist for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Medina Gazette. Contact him at 329-7135 or jingraham4@gmail.com and follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter

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