BALTIMORE — The quarterback derby that wouldn’t end has started up again.
The drought without a meaningful offensive touchdown has reached nine games.
So has the losing streak.
The worst part? There’s no reason to believe any of the above will end anytime soon.
The result Sunday in the palace of purple was predictable: Ravens 34, Browns 3. But just in case the Cleveland faithful had grown tired of losing the same boring way, coach Eric Mangini added some intrigue to another blowout.
He yanked Brady Quinn — the winner of the preseason quarterback competition — at halftime and replaced him with Derek Anderson. He told them on the way out for the second half, with the Browns trailing 20-0.
“I thought at that point D.A. might be able to give us a spark,” said Mangini, who fell to 0-3 with the Browns. He said he’d analyze the situation and make a decision on a starter to face Cincinnati early this week.
Read more in Scott Petrak’s Browns Notes: Mangini defends his style, and more.
Anderson did inject a little life, as he led the lone field-goal drive and was able to convert three third downs after Quinn went 0-for-4 in the first half and 6-for-30 in 2½ games. But Anderson, who finished
11-for-19 for 92 yards and a rating of 30.9, threw three interceptions that led to the Ravens’ final two touchdowns.
“I’m looking to not turn the ball over,” Mangini said. “But it is a difficult situation to go into.”
Quinn started the day on the wrong foot when his third pass was intercepted by cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who read the play the whole way and jumped in front of Braylon Edwards’ hook on the sideline. The Ravens needed just six plays to take a 7-0 lead.
Quinn misread the coverage before the snap, took a short drop and threw it right to Foxworth.
“I thought it was going to be one thing and ended up making a blind throw. Bad decision,” Quinn said.
He went 6-for-8 for 34 yards, a sack, the interception and a 42.7 rating. The offense never got farther than the Baltimore 44-yard line and didn’t threaten to score. That was a theme during Quinn’s abbreviated tenure, but he had hoped for a longer rope.
“I was disappointed,” he said of the hook. “Why would I not want to be out there and play and try to come back? It’s frustrating to not be able to finish what I started.
“I knew I didn’t have a good first half and I was hoping to make some plays in the second half. I always want a chance to make some plays.”
Quinn dropped to 1-5 for his career as a starter. He’s 45-for-75 for 400 yards, a touchdown, three interceptions, a fumble and a 62.9 rating this year. He was asked if he’s concerned he might be forced to sit down for an extended time.
“Really right now, I’m not really too concerned about that,” he said. “I’m just waiting to see what they decide and how they feel, what direction they want to go in.
“Obviously everyone wants to start and play.”
Lost in the quarterback shuffle — the Jets’ Mark Sanchez, whom the Browns passed up with the No. 5 pick, is the first rookie to ever start 3-0 — was the dreadful performance of the defense. After two games where it was competitive into the second half, the defense failed from the start. It was 10-0 before the end of the first quarter and 20-0 at halftime. The Browns have been outscored 95-29 this year.
The Ravens (3-0) also pulled their quarterback, but only because Joe Flacco was no longer needed. The second-year guy from the University of Delaware went in and out of the no-huddle offense with ease, ran an option for a first down and picked apart the coverage. He’s given the Ravens what they’ve been chasing for years: a quarterback who can approach the level of their defense.
Flacco went 25-for-35 for 342 yards, a touchdown and a 111.8 rating.
The Browns didn’t do any better against the run. They allowed 142 yards and a 5.1 average, and Willis McGahee (twice) and Ray Rice weren’t touched on their touchdown sprints of 7, 15 and 9 yards.
Coordinator Rob Ryan took the blame for last week’s loss after an ill-timed blitz in the third quarter. He can take responsibility again this week, but it won’t be for just one call.
“Aw, man, it was all a blur,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “The game got away from us. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win. Everything we were aware of, we didn’t execute.”
The final dagger came with 8:05 left when Flacco hit Derrick Mason for a 72-yard touchdown. Mason is 35 years old and came out of retirement in training camp, but had no trouble getting behind third-year cornerback Brandon McDonald.
The touchdown came on first down and took 13 seconds. The Browns offense has been looking for a non-garbage time touchdown since November.
Which brings us back to the quarterbacks.
Anderson played pretty well in the preseason, kept the competition close and is a favorite of many of his teammates. He said the 20-0 hole affected his approach and contributed to the interceptions.
“I know there’s no 30-point play out there, but I tried,” he said. “We kinda got in a situation where we were forced to throw it. Obviously forced a couple, but that’s what happens.
“I was excited for the opportunity to play again, but not really happy with the results.”
No one in brown and orange is. The desired impact of a new coach and new quarterback has yet to materialize.
“At this point we’re 0-3. That’s the lowest you can get,” Jackson said.
Check back next week: 0-4 is lower.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.