I could write until I’m blue in the face, err, fingers, but to understand just how poorly the Browns have played today, it’s easiest to look at the last play of the first half.
With 10 seconds left and no timeouts, Cleveland had the ball inside the Baltimore 5-yard line. They had just run a passing play which had failed to stop the clock, but the offense had recovered and was under center without wasting very much time.
However, rather than call a passing play, Browns quarterback Seneca Wallace handed the ball off to running back Peyton Hillis. Hillis was stopped well short of the goal line, leaving the clock and the scoreboard to read a big fat zero.
Yup, it’s been that kind of a day for the Browns. They head into halftime trailing the Ravens, 17-0.
In their prior meeting, the Browns had failed to stop Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice torched Cleveland for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown, a truly embarrassing performance by the Browns’ front seven.
Today, however, Rice has been quiet, at least compared to a month ago. Rice has 49 yards on the ground, but did haul in a 42-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco, meanwhile, is doing the honors of tearing up the Browns defense. He has thrown two touchdown passes on eight completions and hasn’t surrendered a turnover.
Wallace, though, can’t say the same. On the Browns’ opening drive, the offense was moving the ball well, until a third and short in which Wallace tried a dumpoff pass which was picked off by Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb. The Ravens scored the game’s first touchdown just three plays later.
If the Browns have any hopes of getting back into this game, the offense will have to manufacture something. They have 142 total yards, 68 of which have come from Hillis. Hopefully he can find the end zone, otherwise this team might be looking at a shutout and a long Christmas in Cleveland.