It marks the first time they’ve been in first place in the AFC North since midway through the 2014 season when quarterback Brian Hoyer had them at 6-3.
Running back Nick Chubb rushed for for 165 yards and three touchdowns, including an 88-yard blast with 9:35 left in the game that put the game out of reach for the 2-2 Ravens. It was the third-longest rushing TD in team history. Dontrell Hilliard tacked on a 1-yard TD run with 2:14 left to produce the Browns’ final points with 2:14 remaining.
The Browns finished with 531 yards of offense.
The Ravens scored a late TD, a 50-yard catch by Willie Snead, to make it 40-25.
The Browns secured the victory despite being without three of their starting defensive backs — Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams and Morgan Burnett — and losing Jarvis Landry to a concussion in the third quarter. They also achieved it with the Ravens shutting down Odell Beckham Jr., who was held to two catches for 20 yards and got into a scuffle with Ravens defensive back Marlon Humphrey.
The loss of Landry was big, because he led the Browns with eight catches for 167 yards.
The Browns shut down the Ravens’ top-ranked offense — led by quarterback Lamar Jackson — and their vaunted No. 1 rushing attack, led by Jackson and Mark Ingram.
Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said after the game that the win was a result of the players taking a workmanlike approach to the week after last week’s home loss to the Rams.
“I do know this: If you keep your head down and keep working, good things happen and you turn the corner. . . They’ve done a good job at that,” Kitchens said.
“We’re going to try to get better off this game, too. It’s just one game, just like last week, it’s one game. We’ve got 12 more to go. That’s all it is, is one game. We have to go to San Francisco and it’s going to be a huge huge challenge for us on Monday Night Football to see how we respond and handle that situation.
“We’ve got to keep getting better. We’re going to keep learning from this game just as much as we have in the past.”
The Browns’ defense forced three takeaways against the Ravens, who came into the game as the only team in the NFL without a turnover. Safety Jermaine Whitehead forced Ingram to fumble, and also picked off Jackson in the fourth quarter. Devaroe Lawrence swiped him again late in the game. Heading in, Jackson had seven touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Browns handed him only his third career loss against eight victories.
Mayfield completed 20 of 30 attempts for 342 yards with one TD and 1 INT for a 102.4 rating. Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones had a big day, with three catches for 82 yards, including a 9-yarder to open the scoring.
“Our guys did a great job this week of just keeping their head down, continuing to work,” Kitchens said. “At the end of the day, our guys played well. The credit needs to go to them. It wasn’t the play calls and all that. The players deserve the credit.”
Jackson completed 24 of 34 attempts for 247 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs for a 96.1 rating, much of that coming when the game was decided. He was sacked four times and rushed nine times for 66 yards. Ingram was limited to 12 carries for 71 yards.
Kitchens was asked whether this was an important win in the grand scheme of the season.
“I told our guys just now we haven’t won anything. We just won a football game,” Kitchens said. “Twelve games from now ask me how big this was and I’ll tell you.”
With Landry in the locker room being checked for a concussion and Odell Beckham Jr. bottled up, Nick Chubb took a handoff from Mayfield, reversed field and ran 88 yards up the right side for a touchdown to make it 30-18 Browns. A two-point conversion pass to Dontrell Hilliard fell incomplete.
After the Browns climbed out to a 24-10 lead, Baltimore pulled to within 24-18 on an 8-yard TD pass from Jackson to tight end Mark Andrews. Ingram ran in from the 1 for the 2-point conversion after Browns defensive end Myles Garrett jumped offside on the first try.
Jermaine Whitehead forces fumble and Chad Thomas recovers; Browns cash in
With the Browns ahead 17-10 and the Ravens driving, Jermaine Whitehead forced Ingram to fumble, and Chad Thomas recovered with 6:11 left in the third. Chubb converted the takeaway — Baltimore’s first of the season — with a 2-yard TD run that made it 24-10 Browns. The play was set up by a 29-yard catch and run by Landry on a shovel pass. Seals-Jones also caught a 14-yard pass on the drive.
Midway through the drive, Beckham punched Humphrey, and Humphrey climbed on top of him and put his hands on Beckham’s throat. Four players, two on each team, received personal fouls, and they offset.
The Browns hit their second big play of the day, a 59-yard catch and run by a wide open Seals-Jones to the Ravens’ 14. Chubb took it from there, rumbling 14 yards on the left for a TD, breaking two tackles along the way to put the Browns up 17-10.
The first time they had a big play, they got only three points out of it.
After the Ravens cashed in on Mayfield’s pick to tie the score at 7, Jarvis Landry took a short pass over the middle and ran and stumbled up the right sideline for 65 yards to the Ravens’ 22. Mayfield converted a fourth and 1 to put the Brown in first and goal at the 7, but the Browns failed to cross the plane on the goal-line for the second straight week.
Last week, it was first and goal from the 4 at the end of the Rams game, and Mayfield was picked off on fourth down after three incompletions.
This time, Mayfield’s first-down pass was swatted down at the line; the Browns gained a yard on second down; and Mayfield’s pass to Damion Ratley was broken up at the goal line. The Browns settled for a 24-yard field goal by Austin Seibert that put them up 10-7 with eight seconds left in the half.
In the third quarter, the Ravens, taking to the ground, answered with a 41-yard field goal of their own to tie it at 10 with 11:15 left in the third quarter.
Mayfield was picked off by cornerback Maurice Canady on a sidearm pass over the middle intended for Landry, who had stopped his route. The pick ignited the sluggish Ravens, and Jackson ripped off a 29-yard run on the first play to the Browns’ 29. Ingram followed with a 9-yard blast to the 20. Ingram recovered a botched handoff at the 9, and Jackson found receiver Miles Boykin open in the end zone for a 9-yard TD that tied it at 7 with 1:55 left in the half.
The Ravens had a prime chance to tie the game at 7 with 8:18 left in the half, but Chris Moore was ruled out of bounds on a 26-yard catch to the Browns’ 24. He was wide open on the play, but had a toe out of bounds. The Browns challenged the catch and won.
Mayfield capped a 13-yard drive with a 9-yard TD pass to a wide open Seals-Jones. The 84-yard drive knocked 8:31 off the clock. The Browns caught a break when the Ravens were called for illegal contact on a Beckham drop on third and long.
The Browns will have an extra day for a cross-country visit to San Francisco for a Monday Night Football matchup, their third prime-time game in four weeks.