Make no mistake. The play of the Ravens defense was why Baltimore had a chance to win Sunday’s game in Cleveland.
It scrapped all afternoon, giving up just nine points in regulation, then got two stops in overtime. That should’ve been good enough for a win.
The Ravens held Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield in check for much of the day and bottled up Carlos Hyde and the Browns’ second-ranked rushing attack.
But it was Mayfield, the first-overall pick dripping with confidence, who got the last laugh.
Put on the field for a third time in overtime, Mayfield eventually made the Ravens pay with a gritty 39-yard completion on third-and-8 that set up the game-winning field goal. With Terrell Suggs pushing a blocker into his face, Mayfield faded back and fired a pass over the middle to wide receiver Derrick Willies, who broke away from cornerback Brandon Carr.
“Baker is one of those guys,” safety Tony Jefferson said. “We talked about it all week. He’s a fighter, he’s a playmaker. He’s got that ‘it’ factor to him.”
After the game, Ravens safety Eric Weddle spoke with Mayfield on the field and congratulated him for strong start to his career.
"I respect good players and he did a good job," Weddle said. "He made some throws that were really good, he made some other throws that were really bad that we could have capitalized on. But, shoot, 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."
The Browns had 15 drives and scored nine points. The Ravens sacked Mayfield five times and picked him off deep in Browns territory. But in the first home start of his NFL career, Mayfield kept firing away.
He finished 25-of-43 for 342 yards with the one touchdown and interception. After throwing an interception his first drive, Mayfield didn’t turn the ball over the rest of the game.
“Me and him were talking a little trash on the field,” Jefferson said. “You’ve got to respect a guy like that, especially a rookie coming in against a defense like ours. I thought he did pretty well today.”
The Ravens defense came into the season with the goal of doing a better job finishing out games. It did that once again in regulation.
Baltimore still has not given up a second-half touchdown this season and the Browns’ third-quarter field goal came after a Buck Allen fumble.
It looked like Baltimore was going to get off the field for a third time in overtime as it stuffed a reverse handoff for an 11-yard loss on first down to push Cleveland back to its own 5-yard line. But then Mayfield scrambled for 13 yards, setting up a manageable third-and-8 for his completion to Willies.
“He made some plays with his feet,” Suggs said. “We knew he was capable of doing that. We wanted him not to do that. Congratulations to him. We have to go back to the drawing board on that.”
Baltimore’s offense certainly has more items on the to-do list this week, but the Ravens defense wasn’t happy to see a win slip through its fingers.
“We didn’t finish,” Jefferson said. “We’ve been doing a good job of that I believe so far this season and today we fell short of doing that. We have a week to get back in the lab and fix those things so they don’t reoccur.”
Check out the best shots from Sunday’s Week 5 game in Cleveland.