At the time, Suggs’ comment seemed like wishful thinking. The Ravens were in the process of going 30 minutes without a first down and punting on seven straight possessions. Quarterback Joe Flacco was in the midst of misfiring on eight of nine pass attempts. Running back Ray Rice, who gained 58 yards and a touchdown on 11 first-quarter carries, was immersed in a stretch of seven carries for 10 total yards.
And because of those things, their once 14-point lead was all gone. But as they normally do against the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens responded just in time. Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a go-ahead 19-yard touchdown with 4 minutes 26 seconds to play and the Ravens’ defense did the rest in a 25-15 victory Sunday in front of an announced 65,449 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“We all knew what was happening. We all felt a change. You all felt it. But we also knew that when our defense was stopping them, when they were only kicking field goals, that we had a chance to win this game,” said Rice, who rushed 25 times for 98 yards and a touchdown. “We had no doubt that we were going to go out there and put a drive together to come out ahead.
“As far as Ravens’ football, we’ve never been a fancy group. We’ve never been a group that wins quite frankly, pretty. When you’re 6-2, there’s just no complaining about it.”
Whether Smith’s catch and spin past Joe Haden on his way to the end zone or Anquan Boldin’s clutch 21-yard catch earlier in the drive that broke a long first-down drought is the spark that the Ravens’ offense needed going forward remains to be seen. But its immediate impact was evident throughout a relieved Ravens’ locker room.
They are now 6-2, including 2-2 on the road, heading into the Sunday’s matchup with the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium , where the Ravens haven’t lost since December 2010. They swept the season series against a divisional foe and they’ve now beaten the Browns (2-7) 10 straight times. They are 3-0 this season against the AFC North and have won an NFL-high 11 straight games against divisional opponents.
“We started fast and we finished strong. In the middle, we were a little like this,” said Ravens Coach John Harbaugh, waiving his hand wildly. “It was a little iffy there, but the thing I was proud of, our guys played with faith in one another. When the offense was struggling, the defense wasn’t. When the defense struggled, the offense wasn’t. We came together at the end to win the game.”
Two plays after Brandon Weeden completed an 18-yard touchdown to Josh Gordon that was nullified by an illegal formation penalty, Phil Dawson kicked his fifth field goal of the day, this one from 41 yards, to give Cleveland a 15-14 lead with 8:48 to play.