PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
"It's a humbling feeling because of everything we've been through on the road against teams with a lesser-record," Rice said. "To get this one on the road, definitely does something for our team, for our confidence."
From the start of the game, it was clear that the Ravens wanted to pound the rushing attack against a Cleveland defense that ranked 29th against the run. The Ravens ran the ball on 27 of their first 32 plays, as two running backs, a fullback, both quarterbacks and a wide receiver all carried the ball.
Rice was the workhorse, as he topped the 100-yard mark in the first half and went on to reach a single-game career high with 204 yards on 29 carries, the fourth-most rushing yards in Ravens history. Baltimore used Williams to spell Rice, and the veteran back ran for 76 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.
"The offensive line, Vonta [Leach], the two running backs, the physical nature that we played in this kind of a field with these conditions, was the difference in the game," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Once the Ravens took a commanding 17-3 lead in the second half, they kept the ball on the ground and ran the clock. Lardarius Webb then delivered the final blow with a punt-return touchdown with six minutes, 58 seconds remaining to give the Ravens a 24-3 lead.
Overall, Baltimore dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for 35:34.
The Ravens rushed a franchise-record 55 times on the game, breaking the previous record of 51 rushing attempts that came in 2000 against the Browns.
"The weather conditions, everything else played a part in that running game today," Rice said.
As the Ravens offense pounded the ground game and ran the clock, the defense had time to rest on the sidelines and held the Browns to 233 total yards. All but two of Cleveland's possessions ended with a punt or a turnover, and their only touchdown came late in the game when the final result was already well in hand.
Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy struggled again against the Ravens, as he was 17-of-35 for 92 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was also sacked three times in the second half.
By the end of the game, McCoy was mud-covered and gimpy.
"Our defense is based on being very aggressive, and that's what we were," said defensive lineman Pernell McPhee, who had two sacks on the day. "We just came out with a good game plan and put a lot of pressure on him."
The Ravens went on the board first early in the second quarter, thanks to a 6-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice, which capped off a 12-play, 61-yard drive. The touchdown came on the Ravens second possession of the game, after they converted on a fourth-and-1 play earlier on the drive.
McCoy's interception then set up the Ravens' second score, coming just before halftime. Rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith picked off McCoy with 37 seconds remaining in the first half and returned the interception 32 yards to the Browns 15-yard line.
A pass interference call against Browns cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who was defending Anquan Boldin, then placed the ball at the three-yard line. But Baltimore couldn't punch in the football, and settled for a 21-yard field goal by kicker Billy Cundiff to take a 10-0 lead just before halftime.
Baltimore had a chance to extend their lead with two other field goal opportunities in the second quarter, but Cundiff missed attempts of 34 and 41 yards, as both sailed wide right.
The Browns scored first in the second and cut the Ravens' lead to 10-3 on a 21-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 5:55 left in the third quarter. The field goal came after a 52-yard catch by Peyton Hillis gave Cleveland the ball at the Ravens 5-yard line, and the Ravens defense held Cleveland to a field goal.
On the ensuing drive, the Ravens took three plays to go 73-yards, thanks to a career-high 67-yard rush by Rice, which gave Baltimore the ball at Cleveland's 6-yard line. Williams then punched it in for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Ravens a 17-3 lead.
Baltimore then milked the clock and held the Browns offense at bay, before Webb returned the punt 68 yards for the touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The Browns added a late touchdown on a 22-yard pass from McCoy to tight end Evan Moore, cutting the Ravens lead to 24-10.
But then the Ravens recovered an onside kick attempt and finished the game just like they started it – pounding the football on the ground.
The win keeps them at the top of the conference, and the focus remains on bringing a playoff game to Baltimore.
"It would be great to have a playoff game in Baltimore, we know what our fans bring," Rice said. "We just got to win football games from here out. It's clear cut."