Old Browns clobber new Browns

Published 10:51 am Monday, November 3, 2008

CLEVELAND (AP) — Sprinting in the open behind Baltimore’s secondary, Braylon Edwards looked up as the perfectly thrown pass from quarterback Derek Anderson dropped from above.

As Edwards reached out, everything — the lead, a win, perhaps even Cleveland’s season — were right there in the Pro Bowl wide receiver’s hands.

And in an instant, he let it all slip away.

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The Browns, who had already blown a 14-point lead when Edwards made his costly drop, were beaten 37-27 on Sunday after the Ravens scored 24 unanswered points in the final 16 minutes.

Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes, rookie running back Ray Rice ran for a season-high 154 yards and steady Matt Stover kicked three field goals as the Ravens (5-3) won their third straight, a victory they may one day look back upon as a turning point in an unexpected season.

“We talk about character and integrity and doing what’s right,” first-year Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “To overcome the adversity they did in the second half speaks about how big their hearts are.”

Down 27-13, the Ravens could have packed it in, but middle linebacker Ray Lewis challenged his teammates. Stalking the sideline, his fiery and fearsome eyes darting the way they do when he’s looking for someone to clobber. Baltimore’s emotional linebacker pushed the Ravens to dig deep.

“He told the whole team, ‘We’re going to win this game,'” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “You could see the truth in his eyes. Ray Lewis is the greatest general, the greatest leader — hands down — of our time.”

Lewis downplayed his role in the win, but he knew he had to do something with the Ravens in such a big hole.

“I just did what I’m supposed to do and kept the guys fighting,” he said. “Our motto is simple: 60 minutes. Every time we go into a game I tell them, ‘Lock 60 minutes in your head and whenever things go bad, finish the game and we’ll see where we are at the end.'”

After Stover’s third field goal put Baltimore up 30-27, Anderson backpedaled and threw an off-balance pass directly to Suggs, who returned it 42 yards for a touchdown with 2:43 left.

Anderson, whose two TD passes helped Cleveland open its 14-point lead, deserved a better fate. Following Edwards’ drop, Anderson finished the game by going 2-for-10 for 18 yards and the pick.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I’ve got to make throws. We’ve got to catch balls and make plays.”

Edwards, who has been plagued by dropped passes all season, left without speaking to the media afterward.

Joshua Cribbs returned a kickoff 92 yards for a TD and Phil Dawson kicked two field goals, including a career-long 54-yarder for the Browns, who don’t have any time to dwell on the defeat. They host Denver on Thursday night.

“We have to move on,” said tight end Kellen Winslow, who had five catches for 64 yards. “If we can get to 4-5 we can get right back in the race.”

Stover, who ranks fifth in league scoring history, made field goals of 41, 32 and 22 yards.

Flacco threw touchdown passes to Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason and finished 17 of 29 passes for 248 yards. Mason, the sure-handed 13-year veteran, had nine catches for 136 yards and Rice, filling in for injured Willis McGahee, had a breakout game that included a critical 60-yard run in the fourth to set up Stover’s last field goal.

Flacco and Rice are getting better with each game, just as the Ravens hoped.

“When they get drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, we expect them to play like that,” Harbaugh said. “Are we surprised? No.”

Anderson finished 17-of-33 for 219 yards, but the Pro Bowler left the field with Browns fans screaming “Bra-dy! Bra-dy!” for popular backup Brady Quinn.

“I didn’t want to hold onto it and take a sack,” Anderson said of his ill-fated pass to Suggs. “I wish I would have handled that a little better, but I’m trying to win games.”

If the loss wasn’t painful enough for Browns fans, Harbaugh dedicated the Ravens’ win to “Mr. Art Modell,” the despised (in Cleveland) former owner who moved his franchise to Baltimore.

“He deserves this more than anybody,” Harbaugh said.