Ravens erase 20-point deficit to beat Browns

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GRO­GAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig

— It couldn’t have started much worse for the Bal­ti­more Ravens.

A lit­tle more than 10 min­utes into the game, they found them­selves in a 20-point hole.

Bal­ti­more scored the next 25 points while hold­ing the Cleve­land Browns off the score­board over the game’s fi­nal 55:26 to de­feat its AFC North ri­val 25-20 at FirstEn­ergy Sta­dium on Sunday.

“A lot of guys made plays, but no­body cracked, no­body pan­icked or pointed the fin­ger. Guys got mad, but we started play­ing foot­ball,” head coach John Har­baugh said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these play­ers and coaches.”

Cleve­land scored its third and fi­nal touch­down with 4:34 still left in the first quar­ter. That’s when ev­ery­thing changed.

De­fen­sive end Lawrence Guy blocked the Browns’ PAT

CLEVE­LAND

and rookie cor­ner­back Tavon Young scooped up the foot­ball and ran it back to the op­po­site end zone for two points.

Wide re­ceiver Mike Wal­lace scored his first of two touch­downs 1:15 be­fore half­time to pull the Ravens within two touch­downs at 20-9.

Safety Eric Wed­dle in­ter­cepted Browns quar­ter­back Josh McCown 30 sec­onds later, giv­ing Bal­ti­more an op­por­tu­nity to head to the locker room down by a sin­gle score. Justin Tucker con­nected on a 52-yard field goal as time elapsed to cut the deficit to eight.

Wal­lace hauled in his sec­ond touch­down less than three min­utes into the sec­ond half on a 17-yard pass from quar­ter­back Joe Flacco and the 20-point deficit was down to one. All three of Flacco’s touch­downs on the young sea­son have gone to Wal­lace.

Tucker gave Bal­ti­more its first lead with a 49-yard kick with 11:23 left in the game. He added one more with 2:57 re­main­ing to bring the score to its 25-20 fi­nal.

The Browns took over at their own 25-yard line look­ing for the go-ahead touch­down. Af­ter three first downs, they were in Bal­ti­more ter­ri­tory with less than 30 sec­onds to play. McCown com­pleted to wide re­ceiver Terrell Pryor at the Ravens 10-yard line, but the play was negated by a taunt­ing penalty against Pryor for flip­ping the foot­ball at safety Lar­dar­ius Webb af­ter the play.

Line­backer CJ Mosley in­ter­cepted McCown at the 1-yard line the fol­low­ing play to seal the vic­tory.

“We gave up 20 points in the first quar­ter. We put the whole team in that sit­u­a­tion, so it was a good way to end it, with the de­fense mak­ing the last play,” Mosley said.

Cleve­land found the end zone on each of their first three pos­ses­sions. McCown com­pleted to Corey Cole­man for the first and third touch­downs and run­ning back Isa­iah Crow­ell bolted 85 yards to the house on the first play of the sec­ond series.

“We just started play­ing,” Wed­dle said. “Af­ter those two plays, we played sound foot­ball. We got a cou­ple of picks and got off the field.”

Flacco com­pleted 25 of 45 at­tempts for 302 yards pass­ing with two touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions.

Tight end Den­nis Pitta caught nine passes for 102 yards re­ceiv­ing.

McCown threw for 260 yards and two touch­downs – both to Cole­man, who led all play­ers with 104 yards re­ceiv­ing. Crow­ell gained 133 yards on the ground, in­clud­ing his 85-yard burst.

“There was a lot of bleeps, I guess. A lot of ad­jec­tives be­ing used,” wide re­ceiver Steve Smith Sr. said of the Ravens’ side­line early in the game. “I think we han­dled it well – 25 unan­swered points so we did a great job.”

Flacco and Wal­lace each men­tioned the hos­til­ity on the side­line early on. Flacco said it will prove ben­e­fi­cial later on.

“I just told those guys, I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys – a bunch of freakin’ men. It wasn’t pretty, we weren’t per­fect, we weren’t great. Do you want to play that kind of game in Septem­ber? Not nec­es­sar­ily, but ev­ery sin­gle game in Jan­uary and come Fe­bru­ary, where we want to be, is go­ing to be like that,” he said. “Over the years, these games have just taken us to that next level and re­ally made us so men­tally tough that when we get into those games, we don’t blink. We’ve al­ready been through it four, five, six times in Septem­ber, Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber. That’s why we can be so good late in the year. I think this is one of those games that is go­ing to help some of our young guys out with con­fi­dence, tough­ness and some of those things that help you win late in the year.”

The Ravens im­prove to 2-0 for the fifth time in fran­chise his­tory. Bal­ti­more has reached the post­sea­son each time its won its first two games of a sea­son.

Fol­low Sean Gro­gan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

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