The Browns didn’t make Jason Campbell their first choice as quarterback and they didn’t make him their second choice, but it appears he’ll be their final choice for this season as long as he’s healthy enough to play.
Campbell shrugged off a first half hit by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and threw three touchdown passes to lead the Browns to a 24-18 home win over the Ravens. Campbell finished the day 23-of-35 for 262 yards and made some of his biggest plays late in the fourth quarter. He scrambled for one first down as the Browns tried to run out the clock with under four minutes to play, hit Davone Bess for two yards on fourth and one and then found Chris Ogbonnaya for a pair of first downs that forced the Ravens to use up their remaining timeouts.
The fourth down play to Bess was big for a couple of reasons. One was the appealing confidence shown by Rob Chudzinski in his team and in going for a win by playing bold instead of just punting the ball away in the final minutes, even though he could have felt secure in his defense holding the Ravens down on a day when Baltimore gained just 278 yards. The second was the turnaround for Bess, who also caught two touchdowns a week after his three drops and a fumble contributed to Cleveland’s loss.
Baltimore lost another close one and, once again, they have no one but themselves to blame. Tandon Doss muffed a punt to hand the Browns the ball in the red zone, they committed nine penalties and could not protect Joe Flacco at all. He was sacked five times and hurried several others in another erratic performance that failed to recall last year’s playoff heroics. The running game remains stuck in the mud and it is clear that the bye week “state of emergency” didn’t fix everything or even anything wrong with Baltimore.
Campbell doesn’t fix everything wrong with the Browns, either, but he gives them a shot that Brandon Weeden never did. At 4-5 with a very strong defense, it’s fair to wonder what this season might have wound up being in Cleveland if they hadn’t waited so long to call his number. If they return from the bye with everything clicking, there might not even be a reason to wonder.