OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens present a tough challenge for Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer’s first NFL road game.
Some might even say it’s the ultimate challenge.
Under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens are a perfect 5-0 against rookie quarterbacks at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore has held those young passers to a combined two touchdowns and seven interceptions for a dreadful 60.2 passer rating.
The Ravens face Kizer after shutting out the Bengals, 20-0, in the opener and forcing three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Andy Dalton to tie a career high with four interceptions.
This doesn’t mean the Ravens are overlooking Kizer, who delivered a promising debut in a 21-18 season-opening loss to Pittsburgh. Kizer, 21, completed 20 of 30 passes for 222 yards against the Steelers, throwing one touchdown and one interception.
“He’s only going to get better. I mean, he’s in there for a reason,” Harbaugh said. “Hue Jackson knows what he’s doing when it comes to quarterbacks. He believes in his rookie quarterback — talent, head, poise, all those things. He believes he has a great quarterback there, so that’s the quarterback we’re going to prepare for.”
Jackson happened to be the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach in Joe Flacco’s rookie season. He helped Flacco win 11 games in his first year, which ended with Baltimore in the AFC championship game.
But Baltimore hasn’t been as kind to opposing rookie quarterbacks:
In November 2011, the Ravens picked off Dalton three times, including twice in the second half. In both instances, Baltimore quickly converted the turnovers into touchdowns.
In September 2012, Baltimore had to sweat it out as Brandon Weeden moved the Browns to the Baltimore 33-yard line before a fourth-down pass into the end zone fell incomplete. The Ravens had earlier produced a key turnover against Weeden, who had an interception returned 63 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Cary Williams.
In November 2013, the Ravens limited Geno Smith to 9 of 22 passing for 127 yards and two interceptions. Baltimore stopped the Jets on 11 of 12 third-down tries and shut out New York for the final 51 minutes.
In November 2016, Baltimore roughed up Cody Kessler into 11 of 17 passing for 91 yards. Jackson decided to bench Kessler after one drive in the second half, and the Ravens went on to shut out Cleveland after halftime.
In December 2016, Carson Wentz came to Baltimore after producing consecutive 300-yard passing games. But the Ravens picked off Wentz on the third play of the game and held him to 93 yards passing after the third quarter.
On Sunday, the Ravens look to keep their undefeated home streak alive against rookie quarterbacks. The Browns, though, extended one of their own streaks as well. Kizer became the 27th quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999.