Ravens erase 20-point deficit to beat Browns
— 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
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