Week 17 Game Recap: Baltimore Ravens 16, Cleveland Browns 20
What you need to know
The Ravens lost on the road for the eleventh straight time, and failed to carry the momentum gained in previous weeks into Cleveland to close out the season on a positive note. Kyle Boller struggled against the Browns, completing 15 of 36 passes for 151 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Bollerís primary target was Derrick Mason, though Mason caught only three balls for 73 yards. Upstart rookie Mark Clayton saw a good deal of targets in the first half, and had a touchdown reception called back due to an illegal man downfield, and ended the game with three catches for just eleven yards. Tight end Todd Heap did not see a pass until the end of the second quarter, and finished with just two catches for 22 yards. Boller got his running backs involved, as Jamal Lewis finished with three catches for 29 yards, and Chester Taylor caught four balls for sixteen yards.
The Ravens had more success in the running game, though after falling behind in the third quarter, they virtually abandoned the rushing attack. Jamal Lewis gained 89 yards on twenty carries, and Chester Taylor provided a change of pace, picking up 36 yards on eight attempts. Officially, Kyle Boller was credited with four yards on two carries.
The Browns fell behind 13-0 before getting inspired play out of the offense, defense and special teams to bring them back and help Romeo Crenel to get his sixth win of the season. After struggling early, Charlie Frye rebounded to complete 22 of his 38 passing attempts for 199 yards and a touchdown. On the negative side, Frye had two interceptions and one lost fumble which was returned for a touchdown. Antonio Bryant was huge in the passing game, catching nine balls for 123 yards and a touchdown, while eclipsing the 1000 yard mark on the season. Dennis Northcutt added six catches for 41 yards, but had his biggest impact in the return game, when he returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown to put the Browns ahead for good. Paul Irons was used as the receiving tight end for the Browns, and caught two balls for sixteen yards. Continuing a trend seen in previous weeks, Frye failed to utilize his running backs out of the backfield much, with Reuben Droughns catching just one pass for five yards and Lee Suggs pulling in a short two yard reception.
The Brownsí running game was stifled, and struggled mightily down the stretch, especially after the injury to center Jeff Faine. Reuben Droughns gained 40 yards on 19 carries while Lee Suggs had just six yards on two carries. Charlie Frye added eight yards on the ground.
What you ought to know
|QB Kyle Boller, Pass: 15 - 36 - 151 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0|
Boller completed just 42% of his passes with an average gain of 4.2 yards per passing attempt for a 31.1 passer rating in this game. After making significant strides in the previous two weeks in what coach Brian Billick dubbed a critical evaluation period for Bollerís future, Boller regressed in the final week of the season, though both of his interceptions came on deep passes where Boller was attempting to keep the drive alive.
|RB Jamal Lewis, Rush: 20 - 89 - 0, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (4 targets)|
Lewis averaged 4.5 yards and showed a much greater burst in this game then when the two teams had met prior in the season. After being sidelined in Week 14 of the season, Lewis responded down the stretch with games of 105, 74 and 89 yards with an average of over 4.0 yards per carry. Still, the season was a disappointment as he finished with just 906 yards and averaged just 3.36 yards per carry, after averaging 5.3 and 4.3 yards per carry in previous seasons.
Taylor was used primarily as the change of pace and receiving back against the Browns, and combined for over 50 yards on 12 touches, but played a lesser role than he had in previous weeks.
Despite being targeted twelve times, Mason was limited by Bollerís inaccuracy, and a couple of plays called back due to penalties. Mason was targeted primarily on the long ball and deep in the middle of the zone in this game.
Clayton had a six yard touchdown reception called back after Kyle Boller had scrambled and found him open for the touchdown due to Jonathan Ogden being illegally downfield. Clayton finished the second half of the season with 32 catches for 376 yards and two receiving touchdowns, and established himself as a big time playmaker moving forward.
Heap was not targeted until the end of the second quarter of this game, and was not an integral part of the passing game against the Browns, with the exception of the two minute offense at the end of each half.
Stover connected from 21, 31 and 43 yards with a successful extra point, but had a 22 yard attempt go awry when the hold was botched on a poor snap.
The Ravens rush defense limited the Browns to just 54 yards on 23 carries and was successful in shutting down the rushing attack most of the afternoon.
The pass defense came up with two interceptions, four sacks and a forced fumble which was returned for a touchdown, but gave up too many big plays to Charlie Frye and Antonio Bryant.
|QB Charlie Frye, Pass: 22 - 38 - 199 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0|
Frye completed 58% of his passes with an average of 5.2 yards per passing attempt for a passer rating of 59.0 in the come from behind victory. The Browns offense sputtered early, but after falling behind early, the passing game was opened up, and Frye responded, showing a really solid connection with Antonio Bryant for the first time all season.
Droughns struggled down the stretch, and had just one game (against the Dolphins) in the second half of the season where he averaged over four yards per carry. Against the Ravens, he was held to just a 2.1 yards per carry average, and not utilized significantly out of the backfield.
|RB Lee Suggs, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets)|
Suggs was used sparingly in the final weeks of the season, with this game being no exception.
Bryant had one of his best games of the season on the final week of the season, and certainly his best game with Charlie Frye at the helm. With his nine catch performance, Bryant went over the 100 yard mark for the first time all season, and over the 1000 yard mark for the first time in his four year career.
Northcutt continued to play the role of the possession receiver and went over the middle often, hoping to add yards after the catch, but his biggest contribution came in the punt return game, where he returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown. This was his first credited punt return touchdown on the season, though he had two called back due to penalties previously.
Shea was used primarily as the blocking tight end in this game, and did not play a significant role in the offense.
Dawson was perfect on the afternoon, connecting from 21 and 39 yards, as well as successfully kicking both extra point attempts.
The Browns gave up 129 yards on the ground, but buckled down in the second half to help give the offense and special teams enough time to come from behind and prevent the Ravens from extending the lead.
The secondary came up with two interceptions and two sacks, but also kept Kyle Boller out of the end zone, and limited him to just 151 yards in the win. The group had some very good games throughout the season, including this effort in the final game.