Game Recap - Ravens vs. Browns


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The Ravens maintain the second spot in the AFC and could clinch a first-round bye and secure a home playoff game with a win next weekend in Cincinnati.

The win also gives Baltimore an 8-0 mark at M&T Bank Stadium this year, the first time in team history that they have gone undefeated at home. After the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh dedicated the game ball to the fans for the perfect home record.

"That shows our fans are definitely the best in the league," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "We play better at home, so hopefully we can take care of business next week and be back here in the playoffs."

The tone of the game was initially set on the first two series.

The Browns had some early success and opened the contest by moving the ball down the field into Ravens' territory. But Baltimore cornerback Lardarius Webb jumped an out route on third-and-short to pick off Seneca Wallace's pass intended for Mohamed Massaquoi.

Baltimore's offense then took three plays to drive 64 yards – with the aid of a 60-yard pass interference penalty committed against Smith – and jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

"It was big for us," Smith said.

From there, the Browns had little answer for the Ravens on offense or defense, as Baltimore scored on its first three possessions, including a 42-yard pass to running back Ray Rice.

Suddenly the Browns were facing a 17-0 deficit as a team that has scored more than 17 points just twice this season.

Once the Ravens built up the comfortable lead, the offense played conservative in the second half and pounded the ball with Rice and Ricky Williams.

Rice finished with 87 rushing yards on 23 carries and Williams had 45 yards on 10 carries. Rice also was the leading receiver with 48 yards on three catches.

Quarterback Joe Flacco finished with 132 passing yards and two touchdowns on 11-of-24 passing. He made some clutch throws early and started with five straight completions and two touchdowns on third-down plays.

Flacco also had the longest run of the game, scrambling for a 33-yard gain on the final play of the third quarter.

"I thought Joe played really well, just across the board," Harbaugh said after explaining the Browns were able to get back into the game in part because of some dropped passes.

In the second half, the offense wasn't nearly as effective, as Flacco threw for just 27 yards. A few drops and a heavy dose of the running game contributed to the decline in the success of the passing game.

"We didn't throw the ball a lot and we missed a little bit," Flacco said.

The offense scored just three points in the second half and things got interesting when Joshua Cribbs returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, which made the score 20-7.

It looked like a minor touchdown at the time, but the Browns rallied off the score.

"That's really what got them back in the game," Harbaugh said.

After the Cribbs' touchdown, Flacco threw an interception – on a jump ball in the end zone to wide receiver Lee Evans early in the fourth quarter – which nearly came back to haunt the Ravens.

Cleveland turned that interception into seven points and cut the lead to 20-14 late in the fourth quarter. The Browns ended up getting the ball back and had a chance to take the lead, but they turned the ball over on downs with four minutes, three seconds remaining in the game.

The Ravens took over and never gave the football back to Cleveland.

An encroachment penalty by Cleveland's first-round pick Phil Taylor on fourth-and-2 allowed the Ravens to finish the game in the victory formation. The Ravens didn't even have a play called, and were just trying to get Cleveland to jump offsides.

"It works sometimes," Flacco said. "We got them."

Earlier in the game, the Ravens' offense didn't take long getting in sync.

Flacco threw deep on their first play on the out-and-up route to Smith. Flacco threw the ball about 70 yards, and Browns safety Mike Adams was flagged for pass interference. The 60-yard penalty then gave the Ravens a first-and-goal from the 4.

Flacco then hit Dickson with a 5-yard touchdown pass on third down to give the Ravens the early lead.

On their second drive, the Ravens moved the ball into Cleveland territory, but the drive then stalled and the Ravens had to settle for a 48-yard field-goal attempt by freshly signed kicker Shayne Graham, who drilled the kick to give Baltimore a 10-0 lead.

Graham played in place of the injured Billy Cundiff, who was inactive for the first time this season because of a calf injury.

Baltimore took a three-score lead on their third possession by driving 82-yards in nine plays, which was capped off by the 42-yard touchdown pass to Rice on a wheel route out of the backfield. Flacco delivered the pass perfectly to Rice, who outran Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson to the end zone.

The Ravens then increased their lead to 20-0 in the third quarter, as Graham connected on a 43-yard field goal and the game appeared to be out of reach for Cleveland.

But then the Browns started to mount their comeback.

There was Cribbs' 84-yard punt return for a touchdown and then the Browns' 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped off by a 6-yard pass to Evan Moore.

The comfortable lead had evaporated into another gripping finish, but the defense came up with a stop, and the offense was able to get a first down when they needed it.

The Ravens are now heading into the final week of the season with a chance to bring the playoffs to Baltimore.

"It's going to be against a good team, a division opponent, a team that's fighting for the playoffs themselves," Flacco said. "We're going to have to go in there and play a really good game to get a win."

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