In a physical, defensive slugfest, the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns are tied, 3-3, at the half.
The Ravens knew they were in for a battle midway through the first quarter, when they marched 11 plays and 55 yards all the way to 1-yard line, only to be stonewalled by Donte Whitner and a plethora of Browns defenders on a fourth-and-goal run.
Cleveland has been effective at blitzing quarterback Joe Flacco, often sending eight defenders. And the Browns have been physical with all of their tackling, a problem the last two weeks against Cincinnati and Carolina. When the Ravens were threatening to score late in the half, Paul Kruger sacked and stripped Flacco, forcing a Baltimore punt.
Offensively, Connor Shaw did not look like a quarterback making his first-ever NFL start. In a game with postseason implications for the Ravens, Shaw moved the offense past midfield on two separate occasions, showing his poise and athleticism when escaping the relentless Baltimore pass rush.
Late in the second quarter, Shaw completed a critical fourth-and-two strike to Andrew Hawkins to keep the chains moving. That 10-play, 58-yard drive ended in a Garrett Hartley field goal, tying the score at three apiece. Shaw is 5-for-9, for 64 yards.
Terrance West has also helped the Browns in a big way. The Baltimore native has 60 yards on seven carries. West reeled off a 36-yard shifty dash, which helped lead the Browns to their field goal.
We will have much more coverage after the game.