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Ravens D must move past over­time col­lapse

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By SEAN GROGAN sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com Fol­low Sean Grogan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

CLEVE­LAND — Fol­low­ing the pre­vi­ous two games, Bal­ti­more safety Eric Wed­dle was quick to as­sert that these weren’t the same old Ravens.

The of­fense was scor­ing points in bunches and the de­fense was get­ting key stops at crit­i­cal times. Mem­o­ries of late-game de­fen­sive let­downs from the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons seemed to be just that – in­creas­ingly dis­tant mem­o­ries.

But Sun­day af­ter­noon in Cleve­land’s FirstEn­ergy Sta­dium, the Ravens were un­able to make one more stop. After hold­ing the Browns to only 9 points in reg­u­la­tion, Bal­ti­more made two more stands in over­time. It just couldn’t make a third.

The Browns drove the ball 65 yards on seven plays to set up Greg Joseph’s 37-yard field goal that de­liv­ered Cleve­land a 12-9 over­time win over the Ravens only six sec­onds be­fore the game would have ended in a tie. The win was the Browns’ first in the AFC North since beat­ing Bal­ti­more on Oct. 11, 2015 in M&T Bank Sta­dium.

“They just made a few more plays than we did to win 12-9 in over­time, so con­grat­u­la­tions to them,” Bal­ti­more line­backer Ter­rell Suggs said.

The drive fea­tured a back-break­ing con­ver­sion on third-and-8 where a stop would have given the Ravens the ball back with not much needed to reach Justin Tucker’s field goal range. In­stead, rookie quar­ter­back Baker May­field evaded con­tact as Suggs and Matthew Judon ap­plied pres­sure on rushes from op­po­site edges. The No. 1 draft pick found fel­low rookie Der­rick Willies near the first-down marker with cor­ner­back Bran­don Carr in cov­er­age. Carr was un­able to make the tackle, and Willies broke loose across mid­field un­til he was even­tu­ally brought down by Wed­dle at the Bal­ti­more 43-yard line after a gain of 39 yards.

“The game’s on the line and he made a great throw and the guy made a great catch and run. As good as our de­fense played, they made one more play than us.

That’s un­for­tu­nate, but credit to the Browns,” Wed­dle said. “We had good cov­er­age, he got through the tackle and runs for an­other 20 yards. We stopped their of­fense the en­tire game, they just made one more play than us. It comes down to a tight game like that, the game’s go­ing back and forth, one big play is go­ing to sway the mo­men­tum. It just hap­pened to be at the end of the game.”

The Browns were near field goal range, but three straight rushes by run­ning back Duke John­son of 15, 5 and 4 yards al­most guar­an­teed it. Still, Joseph’s kick was an ugly one that barely cleared the cross­bar. He had pre­vi­ously missed a 55-yard at­tempt at the end of reg­u­la­tion that could have pre­vented over­time.

“Just a men­tal er­ror. We didn’t get the call across the whole de­fense, that’s pretty much it,” in­side line­backer C.J. Mosley said of the game-al­ter­ing pass plays. “We had our chances, we didn’t cap­i­tal­ize. We did a pretty good job on de­fense, but at the end, we had a few men­tal er­rors – we had a big men­tal er­ror that got them down the field. We just got to make sure we don’t have those kind of men­tal er­rors at the end of the game.”

Cleve­land’s third-and-8 con­ver­sion fol­lowed a sec­ond-and-21 hole the Browns found them­selves in the pre­vi­ous play. Judon sniffed out a re­verse on first down and tack­led wide re­ceiver Rod Streeter for an 11-yard loss. May­field scram­bled for a gain of 13 yards the fol­low­ing play to set up a more man­age­able third down for the Browns.

“He made some plays with his feet,” Suggs said. “We knew he was ca­pa­ble of do­ing that, we wanted him not to do that, he made some plays with his feet, though.”

Bal­ti­more’s de­fense forced a three-and-out on the first series of over­time. It forced the Browns to turn the ball over on downs in five plays on their next pos­ses­sion.

In the fourth quar­ter, the Ravens forced Cleve­land to punt three times and set­tle for the un­suc­cess­ful 55-yard field goal at­tempt.

Bal­ti­more forced punts on nine of the Browns’ 15 pos­ses­sions, forced one turnover – a Tavon Young in­ter­cep­tion on Cleve­land’s first series of the day – and sacked May­field five times.

“When you hold a team to 9 points up un­til the last [minute], that’s go­ing to be good most games,” Wed­dle said.

The game’s lone touch­down came in the fi­nal minute of the first half as May­field threw a 19-yard touch­down pass to wide re­ceiver Rashard Hig­gins. Five games into the sea­son, the Ravens have yet to sur­ren­der a touch­down after half­time.

(AP PHOTO/DAVID RICHARD)

Cleve­land Browns wide re­ceiver Der­rick Willies (84) runs after a pass re­cep­tion dur­ing over­time in an NFL foot­ball game against the Bal­ti­more Ravens, Sun­day, Oct. 7, 2018, in Cleve­land. The Browns won 12-9 in over­time.

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