During the Browns Week 4 matchup against the Ravens, with 6:59 left in the first quarter, rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw his first interception. The Ravens intercepted the ball and returned it for 52 yards, allowing QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense to take over at the Browns' 10-yard line. On the next play, Jackson scored an easy walk-in touchdown.
After Jackson scored the first touchdown, the game's momentum shifted to the Ravens. The 8-yard touchdown run put the Browns down, and they were never able to recover, eventually losing 28-3.
The Browns will get their chance at redemption on Sunday as they travel to face the Ravens for the second time this season. The game is critical and could have repercussions for the AFC North.
The Ravens currently are at the top of the division at 7-2, while the Browns are third at 5-3. The AFC North is the best division in football this season, as all four teams are currently in the playoff picture. This makes Sunday's matchup against the Ravens a massive game for the Browns to stay competitive.
"It's not easy getting wins, especially in our division," RB Kareem Hunt said. "We got to find a way to win those games going there. It's going to be a loud crowd and they're going to be ready to play us, too. So, it's a big game for both teams and we got to show up."
In their last meeting, the Ravens finished the game with 131 net rushing yards, 165 net passing yards and no turnovers. They scored a total of four touchdowns, two from rushing and two from receiving. It was a balanced attack for the Ravens, who are second in the league in completion percentage and first in rushing yards.
DT Dalvin Tomlinson has played an important role on the interior of the Browns defensive line this season, as he has 14 tackles and three sacks through six games. Tomlinson's presence on the defensive line increased in Week 9 against the Cardinals, as he had four total tackles and 2.5 sacks on rookie QB Clayton Tune.
They also have a defense that is comparable to the Browns defense. In the first meeting, the Ravens defense forced three turnovers and held the Browns to three points. They are currently ranked first in the NFL for allowing passing touchdowns with only six and second in the league for rushing touchdowns allowed with just three.
Overall, the Ravens are having a great season and are currently ranked third in ESPN's power rankings.
"Lamar (Jackson) is doing a great job spreading the ball around," HC Kevin Stefanski said. "Still, a threat to make off-schedule plays. They challenge you up front with a good offensive line, a good run scheme, and good players throughout that perimeter. Defensively, they pose a great challenge. I think Coach (Mike) Macdonald does a great job. They can pressure you. They can play coverage."
The Browns now have Watson back. During Week 4, Watson was out recovering from a shoulder injury. Since Watson has been out, the Browns have only scored one passing touchdown. However, with Watson in the game, they have scored six touchdowns.
The offense moves down the field better with Watson, and they commit fewer turnovers. The Browns gave up eight interceptions in the four games in which Watson didn't play a complete game.
In the Browns recent game against the Cardinals, the offense had their best performance since Week 3. Watson had a 107.5 passer rating, which is the highest passer rating by a Browns quarterback this season since Week 3. They also scored two receiving touchdowns, which they did once this season, and did not turn the ball over for the first time this season.
Even though the offense is still finding its rhythm, the defense has been consistently great throughout the season. Although they had a few mishaps in some games, including the previous matchup against the Ravens, they remain at the top of the league rankings in several categories.
They have allowed 1,878 total yards this season, which is the best in franchise history through nine weeks. The Browns also give up a league-best 234.8 yards per game. They are first in passing defense – holding opposing quarterbacks to a 55.4 completion percentage – and sixth in rushing defense – holding rushers to 3.7 yards per carry.
"It's a big game because it's the next game," LB Anthony Walker Jr. said. "It just happens to be a division opponent, and we want to win our division, and it starts by winning division games, especially on the road."
Sunday's matchup should be closer than the Week 4 blowout. The Browns and the Ravens are eager to win in a game that will affect the AFC North standings.
"We got to win it," Hunt said. "We got to find a way to win. And like I said, we got a bad taste in our mouth from seeing them earlier in the year. So, we got to come back and fire back."