‘don’t blink,’ win

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS INSIDER - Jeff.zre­biec@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jef­fzre­biec­sun

“You knowwhat’s crazy? When­heblocked that field goal and Tavon scooped and scored, that just gave me fire,” said Wal­lace, who had four catches for 41 yards and the two touch­downs. He has the Ravens’ only three touch­downs this sea­son, and one more than he did all last year with the Min­nesota Vik­ings. “It was like, ‘Man, we got th­ese guys.’ We just needed one thing, one mo­ment to get rolling, and that was it.”

Other play­ers be­lieve a more ag­gres­sive men­tal­ity on of­fense and de­fense was the im­pe­tus. De­fen­sively, the Ravens came af­ter McCown and hurt his left shoul­der. On a day when the team wanted to honor for­mer de­fen­sive line coach Clarence Brooks, who died Satur­day af­ter bat­tling esophageal and stom­ach can­cer, the Ravens gave up two first-quar­ter touch­down passes and an 85yard touch­down run by Isa­iah Crow­ell. All that hap­pened in a 5:11 span of the first quar­ter.

But the Ravens, who gave up more yards and points in the first quar­ter against the Browns than they did in the en­tire reg­u­larsea­son opener to the Buf­falo Bills, re­sponded by hold­ing Cleve­land score­less for the fi­nal 49 min­utes. Mosley got the game-seal­ing in­ter­cep­tion, and safety Eric Wed­dle also picked off a pass from McCown, lead­ing to a late first-half field goal by Tucker.

“We put the team in that sit­u­a­tion. In a mil­lion years, we never thought we’d start a game like that, es­pe­cially with that big run,” said Mosley, who also talked about the im­por­tance of hon­or­ing the beloved Brooks. “We def­i­nitely wanted to win this game for him. I know he’s rest­ing in peace, but I’m pretty sure he was [curs­ing] us, too.”

The Ravens’ first four drives ended with a punt, an in­ter­cep­tion by Flacco, a turnover on downs and another punt. But Flacco talked with of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Marc Trest­man about im­prov­ing the tempo and tak­ing more chances down­field.

The Ravens scored on their next three pos­ses­sions. Tight end Den­nis Pitta was a huge fac­tor: He­had nine catches for102 yards on the same field where his ca­reer nearly ended two years ago.

Some Ravens said their ex­pe­ri­ence in games like this al­lowed them to over­come their own mis­takes and make key plays late. The Ravens lost nine games last year by eight points or fewer. They’ve won their first two games in 2016 by a to­tal of 11 points.

“Last year, we weren’t get­ting th­ese, and this year, we are,” said Smith, who had three catches for 64 yards. “Joe said it well: In De­cem­ber, there’s go­ing to be some games like this, so we’re get­ting con­di­tioned now. Real­is­ti­cally, that’s not the way you want to play ev­ery week. You don’t want to play on the seat of your pants ev­ery week. That’s not good for your heart.”

The Ravens have started 2-0 five times in fran­chise his­tory, and they’ve made it to the post­sea­son in the pre­vi­ous four. This team has plenty to fig­ure out. The of­fense is hav­ing a hard time get­ting into a rhythm, and the run­ning gamere­mains a strug­gle. On­de­fense, the lapses early were cu­ri­ous, given how much fo­cus they put on win­ning on third down and get­ting to McCown.

But when it was over, the Ravens cel­e­brated play­ing through the types of mis­takes and prob­lems that hurt them last sea­son.

“I couldn’t be more proud of th­ese play­ers and coaches,” Ravens coach John Har­baugh said. “The play-call­ers were ex­cep­tion­ally good. Bothofthem­stuck­tothegame­planand didn’t over­re­act. That takes a lot when you have that kind of first quar­ter.”

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN PHO­TOS

Ravens line­backer C.J. Mosley, right, in­ter­cepts a pass in­tended for Browns wide re­ceiver Ter­relle Pryor, sec­ond from left, with 13 sec­onds to go, clinch­ing the Ravens’ 25-20 vic­tory.

Ravens wide re­ceiver Bre­shad Per­ri­man, right, pre­vents the Browns’ Jor­dan Poyer from in­ter­cept­ing a pass by Joe Flacco on third-and-22 in the third quar­ter.

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