RAVENS

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE -

Flacco de­liv­ered Bal­ti­more the lead for good when he con­nected with tight end Dar­ren Waller for a 4-yard touch­down near the back of the end zone on the team’s open­ing se­ries of the third quar­ter.

He later found Steve Smith Sr. for a 9-yard score near the end of the third frame, be­fore cap­ping the scor­ing in the fourth quar­ter by float­ing a ball to for­mer first-round pick Bre­shad Per­ri­man in the end zone, who turned and hauled in the 27-yard pass for his first­ca­reer touch­down catch.

The quar­ter­back cred­ited a switch to an up-tempo style of of­fense for the team’s suc­cess in the sec­ond half.

“I think it’s sim­ple. We’re good at it,” Flacco said of

run­ning the hurry-up of­fense. “I think we’ve got good play­ers, and when you do that kind of stuff, it re­lies on peo­ple just beat­ing oneon-one cov­er­age some­times in sim­ple ways. No­body’s think­ing too much.”

Flacco set up Waller’s touch­down grab by con­nect­ing with speedy re­ceiver Mike Wal­lace on a quick slant pass for 20 yards. The quar­ter­back later de­liv­ered a sim­i­lar pass to Per­ri­man that went for 25 yards that placed the Ravens in po­si­tion for their sec­ond touch­down of the night.

Shortly after Smith’s touch­down catch, full­back Kyle Juszczyk hauled in a 2-point con­ver­sion pass from Flacco to ex­tend the Ravens lead to 21-7.

“I think the big­gest thing to­day was we were able to get the ball to Mike and Bre­shad un­der­neath on some guys and just let them do the work,” said Flacco,

who fin­ished 30-for-41 pass­ing for 296 yards, three touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions. “Who doesn’t like [the hurry-up of­fense]? You get the de­fense on their heels, and that’s what it’s all about.”

The vic­tory al­lowed the Ravens to main­tain pos­ses­sion of first place in the AFC North. It also marked back-to-back wins after they de­feated the archival Pitts­burgh Steel­ers last week to snap a four-game los­ing streak.

While the Bal­ti­more of­fense strug­gled to find mo­men­tum early in the game, its de­fense opened the con­test with a sim­i­lar per­for­mance as last week, when it held Pitts­burgh off the score­board un­til the fourth quar­ter.

The Ravens limited Cleve­land (0-10) to just 144 yards of to­tal of­fense, in­clud­ing just 37 yards in the sec­ond half, as they reg­is­tered four

sacks, two in­ter­cep­tions and a fum­ble re­cov­ery.

Lineback­ers Za’Dar­ius Smith and Ter­rell Suggs, line­man Timmy Jerni­gan and safety Lar­dar­ius Webb all brought down the quar­ter­back and de­fen­sive backs Eric Wed­dle and Jer­raud Pow­ers both brought in in­ter­cep­tions, while Suggs (forced fum­ble) and Matthew Judon (fum­ble re­cov­ery) also com­bined for a turnover as part of a dom­i­nat­ing per­for­mance by all lev­els of the de­fense.

“We just wanted to come out and dom­i­nate,” Jerni­gan said. “Those guys [Browns] came out last time and put 20 points on us [in Week 2]. So we just wanted to make sure we did a good job, start fast, not let those guys run the ball. That re­ally was our main fo­cus … the sacks and turnovers just kind of fell into place after that.”

Twice Flacco threw a pair of in­ter­cep­tions with

the Ravens driv­ing deep in Cleve­land ter­ri­tory and twice the Bal­ti­more de­fense an­swered by forc­ing the Browns to punt.

“We count on them, ain’t no doubt about that,” Ravens corner­back Jimmy Smith said of his team’s of­fense. “We de­pend on them, and we be­lieve in them. We’re go­ing in just to make sure that we give them an op­per­tu­nity to get go­ing. Tonight, ob­vi­ously, it worked out for us.”

Bal­ti­more also handed Cleve­land its first 10-game los­ing streak in the 66-year his­tory of the fran­chise.

Bal­ti­more took the lead five min­utes into the first quar­ter on a 25-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. The Browns took the lead with 6:30 re­main­ing in the open­ing half when quar­ter­back Cody Kessler con­nected with tight end Seth DeValve over­top Eric Wed­dle. The Ravens then pulled within 1 at half­time after Tucker drilled a 40-yard kick as time ex­pired.

Fac­ing the team that drafted him, Ravens run­ning back Ter­rance West fin­ished with 21 car­ries for 65 yards. Bal­ti­more com­bined to rush for 119 yards as a team.

“A lot of the play­ers on the side­line, re­ally led by Jimmy Smith, men­tioned that we fi­nally have one of those games where we can [smile be­fore the fi­nal min­utes of the game],” Har­baugh said. “It wasn’t un­til three min­utes were left in the game that we had this con­ver­sa­tion, but it was a good three min­utes, that’s for sure.”

The Ravens wore an all-pur­ple al­ter­nate home jersey with gold num­bers as they par­tic­i­pated in the re­cent “color rush” craze cur­rently sweep­ing the NFL.

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