Safety Will Hill returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown to give the Baltimore Ravens a 33-27 walk-off victory over the Cleveland Browns on Monday night. Here's what you need to know:
- Backup quarterbacks Austin Davis and Matt Schaub were each handed a pair of opportunities to lead game-winning, two-minute drills in a game tied, 27-27. After being stopped inches shy of a first down on his first try, Schaub uncorked what appeared to be a game-ending interception with less than a minute remaining. After going three-and-out on his own initial attempt, Davis mismanaged the clock and prime field position, leaving Travis Coons with a 51-yard field-goal attempt. Hill picked up Brent Urban's block and returned it 64 yards for the "kick six" in one of strangest endings we've seen.
- The Browns' defense can't stop the run, failed to get pressure against Baltimore's injury-depleted O-line, missed too many tackles and too often got lost in coverage. They just allowed 33 points to a team led by a mistake-prone quarterback who hadn't thrown a touchdown since 2013, when he broke the NFL record for most consecutive games with a pick six.
This is a damning state of affairs for a franchise that has devoted first-round draft picks to that side of the ball in each of the past three years in addition to spending more money on defense ($82 million) than any team in the league. Although overmatched general manager Ray Farmer deserves a lion's share of the blame, defensive-minded coach Mike Pettine has failed to develop the draft picks that he has had a share in selecting. Pettine is 2-14 since jumping out to a surprising 7-4 start in his first 11 games with Cleveland. The Ravens are a quality organization that will recover from an injury-ravaged season and turn their fortunes around in 2016. The Browns, on the other hand, are a ship without a captain, adrift at sea for nearly two decades.
- The expectations for Schaub were so low that he somehow managed to exceed them despite unfurling his requisite pick six and another interception that should have handed the Browns an easy victory. That rather large caveat notwithstanding, Schaub managed an efficient game and made plays in the red zone. The Ravens showed confidence in their new starting quarterback, throwing out of the end zone and converting a fourth-and-inches at their own 25-yard line with a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Judging by the play-calling, the coaching staff isn't going to attempt to hide a quarterback who appeared to be finished as an effective starter three years ago.
- Josh McCown was sporting a shoulder sling in the postgame locker room after exiting in the fourth quarter with an injury that Pettine described as "an issue with his collarbone." Although McCown has been the least of the Browns' problems this season, he has led the team to just one victory while playing with a fearless style bordering on recklessness that leaves him susceptible to injuries. It will be interesting to see who starts at quarterback in the intrastate matchup with the Bengals. Pettine will likely have to choose between rolling with Davis or letting Johnny Manziel out of the doghouse.
- As much excitement as this much-dreaded showdown brought to prime time, browbeaten Browns fans are left wondering who will provide hope for the future. The last three draft classes lack any semblance of star power. The best players on a woebegone defense are veterans entering their twilight years. The first-round quarterback has shamed the organization, leaving management to question his mental makeup. Josh Gordon is a fading memory. The offense's lone playmakers, Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin, are due to reach free agency in March. If Pettine and Farmer are going to keep their jobs, they must find a way to manufacture hope in the final months of yet another lost season by the lake.