Cleveland, OH – Joe Flacco connected with Torrey Smith late in the fourth for the go-ahead score and the Baltimore Ravens avoided a collapse in Cleveland, defeating the Browns, 25-15, on Sunday.
Phil Dawson kicked a 41-yard field goal, his longest of five makes on the day, to give Cleveland a 15-14 lead in the fourth, but Flacco drove the Ravens down the field on the ensuing possession, capping the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Smith.
The Ravens' offense did not pick up a first down in the second half until the go-ahead scoring drive. Flacco finished 15-of-24 for 153 yards, while Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce each had rushing scores for the Ravens (6-2), who defeated the Browns for the 10th straight time.
Rice led the Ravens' rushing attack with 98 yards on 25 carries.
Brandon Weeden moved the ball down the field most of the day, but was never able to get the Browns' (2-7) offense into the end zone. He completed 20-of-37 throws for 176 yards with two interceptions for Cleveland, which was coming off a win against the San Diego Chargers.
Trent Richardson ran for a game-high 105 yards on 25 carries for the Browns in the setback.
The Ravens offense looked phenomenal early, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game, but slowed drastically afterward.
"Hey, I wish we would go out there and continue to play like we were in the first quarter and go up and down the field the whole game," said Flacco. "Sometimes it doesn't work out that way and you have to be ready to continue to play the whole game, play the full 60 minutes and take whatever is thrown your way and make the best of it."
On their first touch, Flacco completed all four of his passes, connecting three times with Anquan Boldin, who made a 16-yard catch on the ninth play of the drive to put Baltimore on the Cleveland 8. On the next play, Rice took a handoff around the left side and stiff armed a defender to reach the end zone for an 8-yard score.
It was more of the same on the Ravens' next possession. Smith made a leaping catch down the sideline for 26 yards to move the Ravens inside the Browns' 20- yard line. From there, Baltimore converted twice on third and short, the second on a toss to Pierce, who bounced to the outside and tight-roped the sideline to reach the end zone for a 12-yard score, capping a march that lasted nearly seven minutes. The touchdown was the first of Pierce's career and put Baltimore on top 14-0.
The slow-starting Browns finally got moving offensively in the second quarter after going three-and-out on their first two touches.
On the second play, Richardson picked up 19 yards on a rush prior to an 11- yard catch by Ben Watson to put Cleveland in Baltimore territory. Later in the drive, Richardson ran for 13 more yards on three consecutive carries to reach the Ravens' 16, but the drive stalled from there and Dawson drilled a 32-yard field goal to make it 14-3.
The Browns got the ball back quickly after forcing the Ravens to punt and following a 15-yard run by Richardson, Weeden made two long throws to set up Dawson for another field goal. On third down, Weeden found Josh Gordon for a 26-yard gain and then completed a 23-yard pass to Greg Little, advancing the ball inside the Ravens' 20. After failing to convert on 3rd-and-8, the Browns were forced to settle for a Dawson 28-yard field goal.
"I missed a couple of throws early, kind of uncharacteristic of me," said Weeden. "But I think I finally got in a rhythm in the second and third quarters."
Cleveland continued to chip away. After forcing a Ravens three-and-out, the Browns got the ball back with 1:03 to go until halftime. Watson and Little each hauled in 11-yard passes from Weeden before he connected with Travis Benjamin, who kept both feet in before stepping out of bounds on a 19-yard reception with six seconds remaining. Dawson came out and drilled a 29-yarder, making it a one score game at 14-9 heading into the third quarter.
The Browns defense forced another three-and-out on the Ravens' opening possession of the second half, but Cleveland gave it right back.
After nearly being picked off on the previous play by Ed Reed, Weeden was intercepted by Cary Williams, who returned it 26 yards to the Cleveland 39.
However, Baltimore did nothing with the good field position. They backed up 10 yards after Michael Oher was called for holding and proceeded to go three-and- out for the third consecutive possession.
With 2:39 left in the third, the Browns came within two when Dawson hit his fourth field goal of the game. A 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Dannell Ellerbe gave Cleveland a first down on the Baltimore 30. Faced with 3rd-and-4, Weeden scrambled toward the sideline to pick up the first down, but failed to complete a pass to Mohamed Massaquoi on the next third down conversion. Dawson, however, salvaged the drive with a 33-yard field goal.
The Ravens offense continued to be stifled by the Browns' defense and were forced to kick away on their next two offensive possessions. After the second punt, Cleveland took over on their own 43 and moved the ball down the field to get in position for the go-ahead score. They appeared to score a touchdown when Weeden completed an 18-yard pass to Gordon on 3rd-and-6, but an illegal formation penalty wiped out the play.
Facing third and long, the Browns opted to run with Richardson, who was stuffed for no gain. Dawson then came out to attempt his longest field goal of the day, a 41-yarder, and kicked it through the uprights to give the Browns their first lead of the day at 15-14.
After going three-and-out on every possession of the second half, the Ravens offense finally got moving again and scored for the first time since the first quarter.
Flacco threw a 21-yard strike to Boldin before drawing a roughing the passer penalty on T.J. Ward, which moved Baltimore passed midfield. Rice then ran for 10 yards on consecutive carries before Flacco fired a 19-yard pass to Smith in the end zone to put the Ravens back on top. They then converted the two-point conversion, as Flacco lofted a pass to a wide-open Boldin to give the Ravens a 22-15 lead with 4:26 remaining.
This time it was the Ravens' defense that locked down, as they forced the Browns into a 4th-and-2 on their ensuing touch. Choosing not to punt, Weeden's pass intended for Little fell incomplete and the Browns turned it over on downs deep in their own territory.
The Ravens only advanced four yards, but Justin Tucker kicked a 43-yard field goal through the uprights to secure the victory for Baltimore.
Weeden was picked off by Ed Reed on the Browns' final offensive drive and the Ravens ran out the remaining clock.
John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco recorded their 50th career wins ... Rice needs just one more rushing yard to join Jamal Lewis as the only players in Ravens' history to reach 5,000 rushing yards ... Defensive tackle Phil Taylor was activated from the physically unable to perform list prior to Sunday's game. It was his first action of the season.