Ravens receivers catch on at key times

Ravens receivers catch on at key times
September 15, 2013, 9:15 pm
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Marlon Brown 'blessed' to be apart of Ravens receiving corps

Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing game hardly looked like a $120 million machine in the Ravens' 14-6 win over Cleveland on Sunday. But when it mattered, when the Ravens needed a throw and catch to move the chains in the second half, Flacco and his new supporting cast of receivers delivered.

Case in point: On the Ravens opening drive of the second half, which resulted in the go-ahead touchdown, the Ravens ran the ball on nine of 12 plays. All three pass plays came on third down, and all three were complete, to three different receivers.

On third-and 6, Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 23-yard gain to the Browns 39-yard line. On third-and-7 from the 36, Flacco found Marlon Brown for a gain of 10. Then on third-and-8 from the 24, Flacco hit Brandon Stokley for a gain of 11. The drive ended with Bernard Pierce's 5-yard touchdown run and a 7-6 lead.

The Ravens were 1-for-7 on third down during an inept first half during which they fell behind 6-0. But in the second half, the Ravens were 7-for-9 on third down, and converted six of their first seven third downs that half en route to a 14-6 lead.

Flacco, playing just an hour or so after his second son was born, struggled to get into any offensive rhythm early,  going 12-for-21 for 109 yards in the first half. Ed Dickson dropped a pass on the Ravens' first play from scrimmage, and Flacco air-mailed a pass over an open Smith on the left sideline.

The second half was a different story though. Nothing came easy for the Ravens, but Flacco was not sacked in the second half and completed 10 of 12 passes for 102 yards. And he was at his best on third down.

Stokley, who finished with four catches for 36 yards, had three of those chain-moving catches, which is exactly the role the Ravens envisioned for the veteran receiver.

"I'm here to try to help this team win games," Stokley said. "That's what my role is, and anything that I can do to do that, that's what I'm here for."