What we learned: Grizzled veterans lead Ravens to win

After trailing 7-6 at halftime, the Baltimore Ravens scored three second-half touchdowns to run away from the Cleveland Browns in a 28-7 victory to kick off the NFL's Week 10 slate. Here's what we learned Thursday night:

  1. The final numbers look decent because the Ravens wore a talent-poor Browns defense down and Breshad Perriman came through with a circus touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, but this performance is hardly a sign that Joe Flacco's offense is poised for a breakout. Flacco tossed a pair of end-zone interceptions and needed to convert three third downs to salvage a field goal for a 7-6 deficit entering halftime.

New coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has shown little commitment to Terrance West and the ground game. Overly reliant upon checkdowns and crossing routes, the aerial attack fails to take advantage of Flacco's arm talent. Still, this was a much-needed victory for a first-place team in a tight AFC North race. The Ravens face a much stiffer test next week at Dallas.

  1. What is Cleveland's plan under center? When Hue Jackson bypassed more talented quarterbacks to select Cody Kessler in the third round of the 2016 draft, he pleaded with Browns fans to trust his evaluation. With no college quarterback worthy of the top pick in next year's draft, Jackson was hoping Kessler would take his rookie audition and run with it over the next two months.

"It's nice to have stability at quarterback now," left tackle Joe Thomas told NFL Network's James Palmer this week. "We didn't have that at the start of the year." That stability lasted just over two quarters, as Kessler was yanked for journeymanJosh McCown in a 13-7 game. Kessler was indecisive for the second straight week, struggling to pick up blitzes. More problematic for the Browns' long-term plans, he lacks the arm strength to consistently hit NFL throws outside the numbers. Even if we view his future as a high-end backup, it behooves Jackson to stick with the rookie for the rest of a lost season.

  1. In Christian Kirksey and free-agent acquisition Demario Davis, the Browns already boasted a pair of talented inside linebackers when they traded for Jamie Collins. So how is Collins being utilized in Ray Horton's defense? The former Patriots linebacker is an every-down player, aligning as an edge rusher in the base defense and moving inside for nickel packages. He was Cleveland's most disruptive defensive star Thursday night, finishing with nine tackles -- two for loss -- and a sack.
  1. Steve Smith still has the most vicious stiff-arm maneuver of any wide receiver in the league. Up to 14,349 receiving yards in his career, the 37-year-old star bypassed NFL Network's Reggie Wayne for eighth place on the all-time list. Next on the list: Marvin Harrison's 14,580 and the 1,000-catch mark. Smith is sitting on 997 receptions after notching five for 60 yards and a touchdown versus the Browns. He's a no-brainer Hall of Famer.
  1. Smith wasn't the only grizzled veteran to set the tone for the Ravens. Playing through a torn biceps muscle, Terrell Suggs got the better of All-Pro Joe Thomas while turning McCown's relief appearance into a nightmare. Suggs hit McCown in full windup twice, one of which led to an interception and the other resulting in a lost fumble.
  1. Already tied for the most offensive line combinations this season, the Ravens lost starting left guard Alex Lewis when he was carted off the field with a right ankle injury in the third quarter. The fourth-round rookie was coming off his best game of the season in the Week 9 victory over Pittsburgh.
  1. It's getting increasingly difficult to find a win on the Browns' schedule. The final six games are hosting the Steelers, Giants and Bengals, traveling to Buffalo, hosting the Chargers and closing out on the road at Pittsburgh. They are going to have to pull off a major upset to avoid joining the 2008 Lions in the ignominy of an 0-16 season.
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