Browns v Ravens
It turns out the Browns are still the same Browns that we know and pity. Last week they had a tough match up against the Ravens. Almost everyone expected them to struggle. Instead Josh McCown, who was named the starter after RGIII went down injured, came out looking like Dan Marino. He threw two touchdown passes to rookie Corey Coleman and Isaiah Crowell had an 85-yard touchdown run. In fact Cleveland scored three touchdowns in the first quarter. All the Ravens could muster was a blocked PAT which they returned for two points.
And then the Browns we know of old returned. Joe Flacco refused to give in and fought his way to a solid 25 of 45 for 302. Dennis Pitta, bidding to make a remarkable comeback from a severe hip injury, had 9 receptions for 102 yards. The game wasn’t particularly great for either quarterback, throwing two interceptions each. Joe Haden grabbed both for the Browns. The Ravens were unable to establish a running game, partly due to being so far behind early on, but did just enough to come away with the win. Terrence West and Justin Forsett combined for less than 100 yards (42 and 37 yards respectively). It was a fact acknowledged by coach John Harbaugh as he said “Just generally speaking, we want to improve our run game.”
Josh McCown left this one briefly to get his shoulder checked before returning to finish the game. It’s a move that he may regret as he’s going to be out for at least a week. Browns fans will see rookie Cody Kessler sooner than they anticipated as he was named the starter for their Week 3 game against Miami.
Bengals v Steelers
This game was live on Sky and it was slightly disappointing. The Steelers DeAngelo Williams did what he does best and ran over, around and through people on his way to 94 yards. He seemed to pick up the slack for Ben Roethlisberger who had an off day early on, but came good eventually, throwing for 259 yards and 3 touchdown with 2 interceptions. The Steelers never looked like losing this one.
Andy Dalton had the better day in terms of yards (366) but the Bengals were repeatedly unable to find the end zone and had to settle for 3 field goals in the first three quarters. The Steelers defence was able keep AJ Green in check (2 receptions, 38 yards) and no-one filled the playmaking void. It’s a problem that the Bengals will have to overcome if they want to be in the conversation come playoff time. It’s possible that Tyler Boyd can build on his solid second game (78 yards) or Brandon LaFell can become a solid receiver, something he’s never really managed. Unless the Bengals develop a running game they may well disappoint those anointing them as the number two team in the division.