BALTIMORE (AP)Gus Edwards scored two touchdowns in his long-awaited return, staking Baltimore to a double-digit lead in the second half.
Those haven’t exactly been safe this season for the Ravens, but this time they managed to hold on.
Baltimore avoided another fourth-quarter collapse thanks to a couple huge Cleveland penalties that helped the Ravens hold off the Browns 23-20 on Sunday. Baltimore outrushed Nick Chubb and Cleveland 160-113 and remained in a tie with Cincinnati atop the AFC North.
”We kind of had the lead again. What’s going to happen?” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. ”Focus on what you’ve got to do within the play, not within the situation and the circumstances. Circumstances really doesn’t matter. What matters is the play call and doing your job.”
Baltimore (4-3) has blown a double-digit lead in the second half of each of its three losses this season. The Ravens led 23-13 after Justin Tucker’s 55-yard field goal with 11:24 remaining, but the Browns quickly responded with a 2-yard touchdown run by Kareem Hunt to make it a three-point game. Then a fumble by Baltimore’s Justice Hill gave Cleveland the ball at its own 16 with 3:12 to play.
The Browns reached the Baltimore 34 before an offensive pass interference call wiped out a touchdown pass to Amari Cooper, who appeared to hold off cornerback Marcus Peters with his arm. Cleveland still made it back into position to try a long field goal, but a false start before that snap forced Cade York to try it from 60.
His attempt was blocked by Malik Harrison with 1:59 remaining, and the Ravens were able to run out most of the remaining time.
”I almost had one when I was in high school, but this is my first one,” said Harrison, who said the kick hit him in the face.
The officials had a lengthy discussion before the false start call, which was obviously a huge swing since it pushed the field goal back when an offside flag would have moved it closer.
”The margin of error in this league is pretty slim,” Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett said. ”You go out there and play pretty well and sometimes you still don’t get the results that you want, but that can’t change the way we come to work.”
Cleveland (2-5) has lost four in a row. Chubb had 91 yards on 16 carries.
Edwards hadn’t played in a game that counted since Baltimore’s playoff loss to Buffalo on Jan. 16, 2021. He missed all of last season and the first six games of this one following a major knee injury.
He rushed for 66 yards Sunday and scored on runs of 7 and 1. The latter came on a fourth-down play in the third quarter that made it 20-10.
”I’m even fortunate to be playing right now with the type of injury I had,” Edwards said. ”It was ACL, hamstring, LCL.”
The Ravens trailed 10-3 after one – the first time all season they were behind after any quarter except the fourth. Their offense seemed to find a rhythm late in the second, when Lamar Jackson led a 10-play, 80-yard drive, and Edwards’ first TD put Baltimore up 13-10 at halftime.
Brissett lost a fumble in the third, giving the Ravens the ball at the Cleveland 25, and Edwards capped that short drive with another touchdown.
This was the first game all season Baltimore didn’t score first, and the first time the Ravens allowed any points on an opponent’s first possession. Cleveland marched 75 yards in 11 plays after the opening kickoff and took the lead on a 2-yard run by Chubb.
The teams traded field goals, and then Baltimore settled for another one that made it 10-6 even after a punt return had given the Ravens the ball at the Cleveland 21.
Neither team had a great deal of success passing – and the Browns lost tight end David Njoku to an ankle injury after he caught a team-high seven passes for 71 yards. Jackson was sacked three times and threw for only 120 yards. Brissett was 22 of 27 for 258 yards, but he was sacked five times and fumbled on one of them.
”You’ve got to take the ball away, you can’t give it away,” Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski said. ”All the little things, playing clean football, all those things.”
Edwards’ return is another chapter in Baltimore’s ongoing injury saga in the backfield. He and J.K. Dobbins missed all of last season with knee injuries. Dobbins returned earlier this season but is now on injured reserve. Justice Hill returned from a hamstring injury Sunday and ran for 26 yards. … Browns TE Pharaoh Brown was evaluated for a concussion, and LB Jacob Phillips had a shoulder injury.
The Ravens honored their most recent Super Bowl championship team on the 10th anniversary of that 2012 season. Plenty of players from that team were on hand and introduced before the game, including Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, who did his famous dance while taking the field.
Running back Ray Rice, whose career ended in 2014 after video surfaced of him striking his fiancee in the elevator of a hotel, was also on hand and received a big cheer from the crowd.
Browns: Host the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 31 in a Monday night game.
Ravens: Visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night.
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