Marlon Brown: 'Big team, small me'
The Ravens 2013 season is quickly sliding toward irrelevance after a 24-18 loss at Cleveland on Sunday left the Ravens at 3-5. The run game remains inept, the offensive line has looked confused and the $120 million quarterback has looked anything but elite.
But on an offense that has looked impotent for the majority of the season, there is at least one bright spot emerging: rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown.
The undrafted Georgia product scored both Ravens touchdowns in the loss to the Browns and also caught a two-point conversion, extending his entire 6-foot-5 frame for a fingertip catch along the sideline.
He was targeted a team-high nine times and finished with five catches for 54 yards.
"Marlon played really well," coach John Harbaugh said. "Marlon made plays for us. Marlon made catches, he made runs after the catch, he made a spectacular play on the two-point conversion. I'm really proud of the way he played."
Brown's first touchdown grab was a 19-yarder in the closing seconds of the first half, as he caught a pass near the sidline at about the 5-yard line, got his shoulders turned upfield and lunged for the pylon. Then he got the Ravens within striking distance in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 7-yard touchdown catch and then grabbing the two-point play to trim Cleveland's lead to 21-18.
"On a couple of plays Joe threw strikes and I ran a good route," he said.
Brown has struggled to gain separation on deep routes, but he continues to be one of Joe Flacco's top intermediate and red zone targets. Brown leads the Ravens with five touchdown catches, with all five of them coming in the red zone.
For the season, Brown has 26 catches for 297 yards and the five scores. It's no secret that teams are going to blanket No. 1 receiver Torrey Smith, so it will fall to Brown and other receivers to pick up the slack.
Brown was up to the challenge at Cleveland, and he continues to be one of the pleasant surprises on a 2013 team with little to smile about at the halfway point.