Ravens survive dreadful first quarter to beat Browns 25-20

Credit: BaltimoreRavens.com
After trailing 20-2 at the end of the first quarter, the Baltimore Ravens escaped Cleveland with a 25-20 win over the Browns on Sunday.

Following a Justin Tucker field goal, the Browns would get the ball back trailing by five points with 2:53 to go in the game and one timeout to work with. At the two-minute warning, Cleveland had the ball at their own 36-yard-line.

Browns quarterback Josh McCown, who made it through the game even after suffering a left-shoulder injury, got the Cleveland offense down to the Baltimore 30. McCown would complete a 20-yard throw to receiver Terrelle Pryor, but the play was called back with offsetting penalties; Ravens safety Lardarius Webb was called for holding, and Pryor was called for taunting after the play.

On the next play, McCown went for it all, trying to connect with Pryor in the end zone to win the game for Cleveland. Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley had other plans, intercepting McCown’s pass before calling to the Baltimore one-yard line. From there, quarterback Joe Flacco took a knee, and the Ravens soared to 2-0 for the first time since 2009.

“We did a great job after that first quarter,” Mosley said after the game. “It was a great team effort. [That’s] why we play four quarters.”

It was a good day for the Ravens’ passing attack. Tight end Dennis Pitta, playing in his second game back from a second hip dislocation, was Baltimore’s leading receiver. Pitta caught nine passes for 102 yards. He took a couple big hits, but bounced right back up each time. Pitta’s second hip dislocation took place in Cleveland.

“Last time I was here I didn’t get to go home with everybody, and this time I do,” Pitta said after the game.” “I took some shots in the game, but fortunately my body held up and I feel good.”

Wide receiver Mike Wallace, who hauled in a 66-yard touchdown reception last week, outdid himself in this game. Wallace caught two touchdown passes, and is still the only Raven to score a touchdown so far this season. With three touchdown receptions in his first two games in Baltimore, Wallace seems to be enjoying playing with Flacco.

“I’ve never played with anyone as cool as Joe,” said Wallace in his post-game press conference.

Flacco would finish with 302 passing yards and two touchdown passes, but Browns pro-bowl cornerback Joe Haden picked off Flacco two times in the game. The first occurred during the Ravens’ first quarter meltdown, and the other happened in the third quarter when Haden got in front of receiver Breshad Perriman on a deep route.

It was a rough first quarter for the Ravens. The Browns received the opening kickoff, and got off to a hot start. McCown marched the Browns down the field, and the nine play, 75-yard drive ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass from McCown to rookie receiver Corey Coleman.

Baltimore’s first drive ended in a punt after six plays. On the very first play of Cleveland’s next drive, Browns running back Isaiah Crowell ran 85-yards for a touchdown. The following  Ravens’ drive lasted only two plays, and resulted in Haden’s first interception. That gave the Browns the ball at the Baltimore 27, and Coleman caught his second touchdown four plays into the drive. The 11-yard score gave the Browns a 20-0 lead, but Ravens defender Lawrence Guy blocked the extra point. Rookie cornerback Tavon Young recovered the fumble, and ran it all the way back to put two points on the board for the Ravens.

Just 10 minutes into the game, the Ravens trailed by 18. They did not panic, knowing that over 45 minutes of football was yet to be played. They scored 25 unanswered points. The Ravens overcoming a 20-point deficit marks the second biggest comeback win in Ravens history. In 2011 the Ravens overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Arizona Cardinals 30-27.

“Nobody panicked, nobody pointed a finger,” head coach John Harbaugh said after the game.

During the game, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. surpassed 14,000 career receiving yards, making him the 11th player in NFL history to do so. He finished the game with three receptions for 61 yards.

The Ravens were also playing with heavy hearts on Sunday, mourning the loss of longtime assistant coach Clarence Brooks. Brooks passed away on Saturday after battling cancer. He was 65-years-old.

“That was for Clarance Brooks,” Harbaugh said.

“I know he is resting in peace, but I’m pretty sure he was MF’ing us too,” Mosley said.

Next week the Ravens will hit the road again for their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kickoff is Sunday, Sept. 25 at 1:00 p.m.





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