Ravens Bounce Back, Keep Pace in Playoff Race With Victory Over Cleveland

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Minutes after last week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens had already started to turn the page to the Cleveland Browns.

Yes, the loss to the Steelers had come in heartbreaking fashion, but the Ravens knew they still controlled their playoff life. Veteran players set the tone: the Ravens couldn't dwell on the frustration of the defeat and needed to get over it in a hurry.

That's exactly what they did Sunday in Cleveland.

Baltimore delivered a commanding win at FirstEnergy Stadium, taking down the Browns 27-10 to improve to 8-6 on the season. The win keeps the Ravens in contention for the sixth spot in the AFC playoff race, and allows them to maintain control of a postseason bid.

"I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous how we were going to play. You just don't know," veteran safety Eric Weddle said. "I'm proud of the way we responded, and just the belief and the character of our team, from our head coach down to the players on this team. We're going to fight."

The Ravens were determined to bounce back from their 39-38 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and wide receiver Antonio Brown topped 200 receiving yards. That loss ended the Ravens' chances of winning the AFC North, but the game also showed that they could go toe-to-toe against one of the best teams in the league.

Baltimore demonstrated Sunday in Cleveland that they can bounce back from adversity, which they've had to do all season.

"As disappointed as we were about that game last week, I really don't think it affected us in a negative way," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "I don't think anybody really got down about it. I think obviously it was an emotional game and it was tough to lose it, but I also think we proved a lot to ourselves."

It was imperative that the Ravens won because they didn't get much help in the AFC playoff picture. The Buffalo Bills took down the Miami Dolphins 24-16 to improve to 8-6 on the year. The Ravens will eventually hold the common opponents tiebreaker over Buffalo at the end of the season if they both win out, but they have no margin for error heading into the final two games of the regular season.

It's possible that the Ravens will have to finish out the regular season with wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium to punch their ticket to the postseason.

"It's on our mind and it's definitely our goal, but at the same time it's week-to-week, it's day-to-day, it's practice-to-practice," defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. "We have to get there first. We can't start talking about it and then just forget about everything else. We have two games to go and we have to give it everything we've got. We're ready for these games and it's a two-game season."

The Ravens haven't made the postseason since 2014, when they upset the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round and nearly took down the New England Patriots in the divisional matchup. Baltimore has veteran players like Flacco and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs who have been part of several memorable playoff runs in franchise history.

This year's group has the look of a team heating up at the right time.

The offense has put together its best three-game stretch of the season and the defense leads the league in takeaways. Confidence seems to be building inside the locker room as the Ravens inch closer to a playoff berth, and the veteran players have delivered the message that the Ravens can't get caught up in the excitement over the final two games. 

"We kind of have to wear blinders," Suggs said. "You have to run your own race. We can't be worried about what everybody else is doing. You have to take care of your own business. You take care of your own business, then you can see where you're at."

Check out all the best photos from Cleveland as the Ravens battle the Browns in week 15!

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