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Browns top Ravens in OT

By MARY KAY CABOT • Oct 7, 2018 at 9:49 PM

CLEVELAND — Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards, Denzel Ward blocked a field goal and had an interception, and the the Browns' special teams finally won a game for them to snap their 18-game winless streak in the division.

The Browns beat the Ravens 12-9 on a 37-yard Greg Joseph field goal with 2 seconds left in overtime Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. Joseph had earlier missed a 55-yarder with 5 seconds left in regulation, and an extra point.

It was the Browns' first win in the AFC North since Oct. 11, 2015, when they beat the Ravens 33-30 in overtime.

It was also the Browns' third overtime game in five outings this season -- and the first one they won. They tied the Steelers and lost to the Raiders.

The Browns got huge contributions from Mayfield (25-of-43, 342 yards, 1 TD, INT, 81.7 rating) and defensive back Ward, who broke up three passes in addition to blocking the kick and picking off Joe Flacco.

The Browns improved to 2-2-1 and the Ravens fell to 3-2.

On the game-winning field goal drive, the Browns' third possession in OT, Mayfield sidestepped an onrushing Terrell Suggs and hit undrafted rookie receiver Derrick Willies with key a 39-yard catch and run to the Baltimore 43. Duke Johnson followed with runs of 15, 5 and 4 yards to the Ravens 23.

That set up rookie kicker Joseph's 37-yarder with 2 seconds left in overtime — a kick that was partially blocked by safety Tony Jefferson but still knuckled over the crossbar.

Willies was playing because Rashard Higgins went to the locker room earlier with a knee injury.

Mayfield had to dig out of second and 21 from his own 5 after the first play of the drive flopped — an 11-yard loss on a reverse by Rod Streater.

"This football team will fight. They won't do everything perfect, but they work hard," Browns coach Hue Jackson said after the game. "They're becoming something.

"If they continue to take the coaching, keep working hard, we'll have many more of these victories. They believed and they were able to get it done.

"We were playing a pretty good Baltimore team, but we're pretty good too. . . . I'm proud of the team, happy for our fans. We have a lot of work to do as we keep moving forward."

The Browns got the ball first in overtime but went three-and-out after Carlos Hyde gained 2 yards, and Mayfield was sacked for a 6-yard loss. They came up short on third down.

The Ravens punted on their first possession, and the Browns' second chance ended when Mayfield's pass intended for Jarvis Landry was overthrown down the left sideline. Cornerback Brandon Carr collided with Landry, but the pass was ruled uncatchable. Landry said after the game that he didn't think a penalty for pass interference penalty might be called, but maybe one for illegal contact.

The Browns' defense forced a three-and-out on Baltimore's second possession in overtime, which started with a batted pass by Genard Avery.

"The guys knew that this time we need to find a way to do it," Jackson said. "We said, 'Let's find a way to finish this game.' "

End of regulation

In regulation, Mayfield got the ball back with the game tied at 9 and 52 seconds remaining. He hit Jarvis Landry with a 17-yard pass on third down to the Ravens 37, but the drive stalled on an incomplete pass to David Njoku and and a batted down pass to Jarvis Landry. Joseph, who had earlier missed an extra point on Rashard Higgins' touchdown catch, was wide left on 55-yard field goal attempt.

It was Joseph's first miss after going 4-for-4 on field goals this season.

The Ravens had taken over at their 34 with 4:29 left and all three timeouts remaining. Joe Flacco drove Baltimore to the 14 on a series of big plays, including a 19-yard pass to Michael Crabtree and a 16-yarder to running back Buck Allen.

But his pass to Crabtree in the back of the end zone was incomplete, with tight coverage by Jabrill Peppers. They settled for a 55-yard field goal that tied the game at 9 with 52 seconds left.

The Browns, clinging to their 9-6 lead, took over at their 14 with 7:28 left in the game. But they were forced to punt from their own 23 after Mayfield's third-down pass over the middle for Willies was almost picked off by Anthony Levine. The drive was also thwarted by an illegal block in the back penalty, the Browns' 10th penalty of the game.

By that time, Higgins, who caught a touchdown pass from Mayfield, was out of the game with his knee injury. It was a blow to the Browns, who were already thin at receiver with Antonio Callaway struggling.

The Browns increased their lead to 9-3 on a 35-yard field goal by Joseph with 7:29 left in the third. The kick cashed in on a forced fumble by Joe Schobert and recovery by Trevon Coley.

The Browns were hoping for a touchdown there, but Mayfield was sacked for an 11-yard loss after moving to the Ravens' 6 on a 26-yard strike to Rashard Higgins.

The Ravens responded by going to the no-huddle, and marched easily to the Browns' 7 on some passes over the middle and a 4-yard run by Lamar Jackson, who took several snaps at QB.

Field-position struggles

It's tough enough to play against the Ravens' formidable No. 2-ranked defense. But when you start drives at your 9, 5, 3 and 10 in the first half, it's nearly impossible.

Still, Mayfield engineered a beautiful touchdown drive in the two-minute drill at the end of the half that ended with a 19-yard TD pass to Higgins to put the Browns up 6-3 with 40 seconds left. Joseph smacked the extra point attempt off the right upright for the Browns' third missed PAT of the season. (Zane Gonzalez missed two in New Orleans to earn his way off the team.)

The six-play TD drives featured two big passes over the middle to tight end David Njoku to set up the score to Higgins — a 19-yard and a 24-yarder. Duke Johnson also took a direct snap on third and 2 and gained 8 yards to the Browns' 38.

The TD pass helped atone for Mayfield's interception on his fourth play of the game. Tavon Young picked off Mayfield on a short pass over the middle intended for Rashard Higgins, whom Mayfield thought was breaking inside instead of out. The two chatted about it afterwards.

Fortunately for the Browns, the Ravens only eked a field goal out of the takeaway, a 44-yarder by Justin Tucker that made it 3-0.

Ward's INT and blocked FG

Ward gets you, Browns fans. On two occasions in the first half, he denied the Ravens points.

He picked off Flacco at the Browns' 3-yard line with 9:28 left in the half to prevent the Ravens from increasing their 3-0 lead. It was Ward's third interception of the season against AFC North foes. The first two came against Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger in the opener.

Then, with Ravens kicker Justin Tucker attempting a 48-yard field goal to tie it 6-6 at the half, Ward laid out and blocked it.

They were huge plays by Ward, and a major reason the Browns were up 6-3 at the half.

Ward also had several pass breakups, but he missed two tackles.

Browns penalties

Early in the fourth quarter, the Browns had nine penalties for 56 yards, compared to zero penalties for the Ravens. The Browns finished with 10 penalties for 66 yards. Those included two special-teams penalties, a holding by tight end David Njoku, a holding by Desmond Harrison and an offsides by Myles Garrett.

Browns' third-down D

The Browns held the Ravens to 0-of-6 on third down in the first half and 4-of-16 for the game.

"They just bowed up and made plays," Jackson said of the Browns' defense. "It was good to see so many guys contributing on defense. . . I thought Gregg and the defensive staff did a heck of a job. Those guys are flying around and playing good."

E.J Gaines injured, returns

Cornerback E.J. Gaines, who started in place of Terrance Mitchell (broken wrist) left the game in the first half with a groin injury, but returned. Higgins suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter and didn't return

Up next

The Browns host the Chargers next Sunday at 1 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Jackson was asked after if Sunday's win sends a message to the AFC North that the Browns are back.

"We're just going to keep our head down and keep working," Jackson said. "We have a big game here next week at home, and that's all that matters to us."

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