Sluggish start for both teams (Ravens lead 9-7 at half)

Neither the Browns nor the Ravens had a full week to prepare for this game. Such is the drawback of a Thursday Night primetime matchup.

And after a quarter of play, neither team is playing like it had much time to prepare.

We’re scoreless in Baltimore, where the Ravens and Browns are struggling to move the ball.

Is it a case of rusty offenses? Maybe we’re simply locked in an epic defensive battle.

Unfortunately, it appears the reason for the lack of scoring is the former.

For the Ravens, their no-huddle offense has been effective at times. Quarterback Joe Flacco is 5-for-8 for 44 yards, but an interception has dampened his night so far. While only gaining 10 yards on the ground, Ray Rice has been Flacco’s favorite target. The little man has four receptions for 32 yards.

The Browns are just as woeful early on. Brandon Weeden has thrown for 38 yards and running back Trent Richardson has just 16 yards.

Late in the first quarter, however, Browns wide receiver and return specialist Joshua Cribbs took a scary hit on a punt return. After a vicious hit which popped his helmet off, Cribbs landed hard on the ground, his head bouncing off the turf. Players from both teams immediately took a knee while trainers rushed out to midfield where Cribbs lay motionless.

It took a few minutes, but miraculously Cribbs not only stood up, but walked off the field under his own power. Unbelievable, considering how hard Cribbs was hit on the play. He was seen walking to the lockerroom a short time later, however, and it is being reported that he will not return tonight.

To add insult to injury, the hit on Cribbs jarred the football loose, allowing the Ravens to gain possession in Cleveland territory. Flacco started to take advantage of the short field, but the drive stalled when Browns linebacker Craig Robertson intercepted a pass in the end zone, keeping the Ravens off the scoreboard. That broke a streak of 125 consecutive passes without a red zone interception by Flacco, the last time coming December 7, 2009 at Green Bay.

Update: A new quarter, a new fire for the Ravens’ offense. After gaining only 57 total yards in the first quarter, Flacco took the Ravens on a six-play, 85-yard drive, culminating in an 18-yard touchdown strike to Torrey Smith. Sam Koch mishandled the extra point attempt, so the Ravens’ lead stands at 6-0.

Update II: Justin Tucker nailed a 45-yard field goal to push Baltimore’s lead to 9-0, but Cleveland responded with a nice drive, capped off by a touchdown run by Richardson to cut its deficit to 9-7 at the half.

Some first half stats:

First downs: Cleveland 9, Baltimore 11

Total yards: Cleveland 151, Baltimore 199

Rushing yards: Cleveland 34, Baltimore 26

Passing yards: Cleveland 117, Baltimore 173

Penalties: Cleveland 3-30, Baltimore 5-30

Time of Possession: Cleveland 15:29, Baltimore 14:31