Ravens shut down Browns on special teams

Ravens shut down Browns on special teams
November 7, 2012, 10:45 am
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For the Ravens, one of the best pieces of information that came out of Sunday's win was the fact that Josh Cribbs couldn't do much.

The Cleveland kick returner can break a game open with little trouble, and the Ravens had problems with kick coverage last year, but things have gone better recently. They kept Cribbs under control, and that's a big reason the Ravens pulled out the 25-15 victory in the AFC North Division game in Cleveland.

Cribbs ran some on the returns but didn't break a big one. His longest punt return was just 13 yards and his best kickoff run-back went for just 28 yards.

That proved to be crucial because the Ravens couldn't move the ball in the second and third quarters and kept having to punt from deep in their own territory. A good punt return alone from Cribbs could have changed the game, but the Ravens didn't allow it.

That's where the special teams support both the defense and offense. There were two poor penalties on kicks, but the good coverage outweighed that. It's a big way the Ravens were able to keep the Browns under control on a tough afternoon.

 "To cover those punts coming out of your own end, when the returner is catching the ball and coming downhill on you, is really difficult," coach John Harbaugh said. "When you’re a punt return team, that’s a huge advantage; you feel like you’re going to drive that ball down into field goal range right with the punt return. So, I was really proud of those guys. I thought our special teams – our coverage on kickoffs, too – was just outstanding.” 

That's something the Ravens have improved with this season. It's something good teams can do on a consistent basis throughout the season, and Harbaugh -- a former special teams coach himself -- probably is hoping for just that.