|Browns beat Ravens 24-18, end long losing streak|
|Monday, November 04, 2013 12:00 AM|
By TOM WITHERS
CLEVELAND — The Browns punched the AFC North’s biggest bully in the mouth.
The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens are wobbling.
Jason Campbell threw three touchdown passes — two to Davone Bess — and the Browns ended an 11-game losing streak against Baltimore, beating the Ravens 24-18 on Sunday.
Campbell’s 3-yard pass to Bess on fourth down with three minutes left helped the Browns (4-5) seal their first win over Baltimore since 2007. A week ago, Bess dropped a pass in a similar situation in the closing minutes of a loss at Kansas City.
The Ravens (3-5) lost their third straight and didn’t win in the week following a bye for the first time in six tries under coach John Harbaugh.
Baltimore’s Joe Flacco had a pair of TD passes to rookie Marlon Brown but the Super Bowl MVP couldn’t rally the Ravens, who made too many mistakes and are in danger of missing the playoffs.
Making his second straight start after Brandon Weeden was benched, Campbell completed 23-of-35 passes for 262 yards. The 9-year veteran was at his best in the closing minutes, when the Browns ran 6:30 off the clock to finish off the Ravens, who have lost four out of five.
Campbell, who briefly left the game in the first half with a rib injury, evaded pressure before making his big completion to Bess and later alertly flipped the ball to running back Chris Ogbonnaya to set up Billy Cundiff’s 22-yard field goal with 14 seconds left to put the Browns ahead by six.
The Ravens had one last chance but running back Ray Rice was tackled near midfield as the Browns beat Baltimore for the first time since Flacco and Harbaugh arrived.
Browns wide receiver Greg Little had seven catches for 122 yards.
Flacco finished 24-of-41 for 250 yards but Baltimore’s offense sputtered most of the game against Cleveland’s vastly improved defense.
Down 21-10 and running out of time, Flacco connected with Brown for a 7-yard TD with 12:09 left and then hit him again for the 2-point conversion to cut Cleveland’s lead to three. Tandon Doss, who earlier fumbled away a punt, set up the score with a 36-yard return that sparked the Ravens.
But it was the Browns who made the big plays in the closing minutes, none more important than Bess’ grab as coach Rob Chudzinski went for it on fourth down with 3:12 left.
The Browns capitalized on a muffed punt by Doss to open a 21-10 lead in the third as Campbell threw a 4-yard TD pass to Gary Barnidge with 5:11 left. Baltimore’s defense, missing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, was uncharacteristically confused during the sequence as the Ravens were penalized for having 12 men on the field and Barnidge was able to slip away from the line uncovered.
After looking dysfunctional for most of the first half, the Ravens came alive in the final minute and pulled to 14-10 on Flacco’s 19-yard TD pass to Brown, an undrafted free agent, with nine seconds left.
Campbell’s second TD pass to Bess gave the Browns a 14-3 lead in the second quarter.
On 3rd-and-3 from the 20, Campbell a hit a wide-open Bess over the middle and the wide receiver did the rest, faking out cornerback Lardarius Webb at the 10 before sprinting into the end zone and then celebrating by slapping hands with Browns’ fans reaching over the railing.
A week ago, Bess had a hard time finding any friends in Cleveland.
His critical fumble on a punt return and a dropped pass in the final minutes denied the Browns any chance of rallying to upset the unbeaten Chiefs. Bess, who entered the game tied for the league lead in drops, didn’t make any excuses for the miserable performance and vowed to atone for his mistakes.
In the first quarter, Bess caught a 1-yard TD pass from Campbell, fighting off two defenders to haul in the throw at the goal line after Chudzinski rolled the dice and went for it on 4th-and-goal.
The Ravens trimmed Cleveland’s lead to 7-3 on Justin Tucker’s 51-yard field goal.
It was a monumental win for the Browns, who ended a 3-game losing streak and passed their rivals in standings. Coach Rob Chudzinski spent the past week harping on the losing streak to Baltimore.
“Chud said it was time to end this beating we’ve been taking,” said linebacker Paul Kruger, who played for the Ravens last season. “We did what it took and it feels good.”
NOTES: Rice had just 17 yards on 11 carries and was not in the locker room after Harbaugh spoke to the media. … CB Jimmy Smith strained his groin and will be re-evaluated today. … Ravens K Justin Tucker made a season-long, 51-yard field goal in the first half. … The Ravens host Cincinnati next week. … The Ravens’ last four losses have been by a total of 14 points.