CLEVELAND -- The Baltimore Ravens continued to do all the things that they hoped to fix during the bye week.
There was the trademark slow start and the sizable early deficit. There was no running game whatsoever, nor was there much pass protection. When quarterback Joe Flacco did get an opportunity to throw downfield, he was mostly inaccurate.
There were a handful of ill-timed penalties, communication breakdowns and costly mistakes. And through all that, the Ravens had every opportunity to beat the Cleveland Browns before their defense again failed to deliver at the end.
Protecting a three-point lead with 6:44 to play, the Browns ran off all but the final 14 seconds before Billy Cundiff's 22-yard field goal finalized Cleveland's 24-18 victory over the Ravens in front of an announced 71,513 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Ravens' third straight loss--and their fourth in the past five games--was the first in 12 meetings against the Browns under coach John Harbaugh and Flacco. It was Cleveland's first victory over the Ravens since Nov. 18, 2007.
Of greater importance, the Ravens are now 3-5 on the season and seeing their playoff hopes grow more and more unlikely by the day.
Trailing, 14-10 at halftime, things went from bad to worse for the Ravens when Tandon Doss muffed a punt, giving the Browns the ball at the Ravens' 11-yard line.
Two plays later, Jason Campbell found reserve tight end Gary Barnidge alone for a 4-yard touchdown, Campbell's career-high tying third of the game.
The Ravens answered early in the fourth quarter. Flacco found Marlon Brown for a 7-yard touchdown with 12:09 to play, giving the undrafted rookie his second touchdown of the day and his third season against the Browns. Brown also caught the two-point conversion, cutting the Browns' lead to 21-18.
The defense held on the Browns' next possession, but despite picking up fourth-and-1 from their own 38, the Ravens had to punt the ball right back after Flacco was sacked on third down.
The first-half performance was even more confounding when you consider that the Ravens were coming off a bye and had nearly two weeks to address their myriad issues from the season's first seven games. But all of those issues were on display in a poor first half for the Ravens, who were lucky to go into the locker room trailing just 14-10.
Again, the Ravens weren't able to run the ball, gaining just 24 yards on 10 carries with Flacco picking up the longest run on an 8-yard scramble.
Again, the offensive line wasn't able to consistently give Flacco time as he was hit early and often. It was fair to wonder if a couple of those hits took their toll because the Ravens' strong-armed quarterback wasn't getting much on his throws.
Normally a quality deep passer, Flacco threw one of the worst passes of his career, a wobbly one that came down in the arms of Browns cornerback Joe Haden.
And again, the Ravens got off to a bad start, falling behind, 14-3, at the 10:08 mark of the second quarter.
On their second drive, the Browns drove down the field with the help of long completions to Greg Little and Josh Gordon. On fourth-and-1 from the Ravens' 1, Campbell hit Davone Bess for a touchdown to give the Browns a 7-0 lead. It marked the sixth time in eight games this season, and the fifth straight game, in which the Ravens' opponent scored first.
Bess wasn't done. Nor was Campbell, who missed part of one series with a rib injury after nose tackle Haloti Ngata landed on him.
When he returned early in the second quarter, he led a nine-play, 53-yard drive that ended with Campbell hitting Bess for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Bess, who had mishandled a punt and dropped several passes in the previous week's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, beat Corey Graham to get open and completely faked out cornerback Lardarius Webb on his way into the end zone. The score made it 14-3 with 10:08 left before halftime.
The Ravens' next three drives ended with two punts and an interception by Flacco, his ninth of the season. That's just one fewer than he had all last year.
However, the Ravens got the ball back on their 33-yard line with just over a minute to play and Flacco got them into the end zone. The big play on the drive was a 46-yard completion to Torrey Smith, who was left wide open down the middle of the field for his first catch of the afternoon.
Two plays later, Flacco found rookie Marlon Brown all alone along the right sideline and he dove into the end zone to cut the Browns' lead to 14-10 just nine seconds before intermission.
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