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5 Observations: Browns scrap the run, thrive through the air in big win

BALTIMORE - Another wild, wacky day of football ended the right way for the Cleveland Browns.

Here are our quick takeaways from the Browns' 33-30 overtime victory over the Ravens.

Browns scrap the run, thrive through the air

Josh McCown's historic passing performance was a byproduct of an offensive game plan that adapted to what the Ravens defense threw at the Browns.

Veteran left tackle Joe Thomas detailed the diagnosis from his locker after Cleveland's 33-30 victory. The Ravens simply weren't going to let the Browns run the ball, and that was evidenced by a slow start that saw Cleveland gain 9 yards on its first eight attempts. The Ravens were bringing the house with constant blitzes, and it was up to McCown to make the correct reads.

It's safe to say McCown was right more than he was wrong on yet another surprisingly busy day for the 36-year-old veteran.

McCown completed passes to nine different players in every way imaginable. Four different players -- Gary Barnidge, Travis Benjamin, Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel -- had six or more catches. He finished 36-for-51 -- yes, 51 -- for 457 yards. The Browns ran the ball 25 times, and seven of those came in overtime.

Over the last three games, McCown has thrown 141 passes and the Browns have attempted just 60 runs. That's not how it was drawn up before the season, but Cleveland has shown a willingness to adapt. McCown's veteran savvy has allowed that adaptation to thrive.

Rough day for D ends with two big stands

The Browns defense wasn't having a good day. It felt like it was going from bad to worse when the Ravens, trailing by a field goal, appeared poised to score a go-ahead touchdown after another long gain from Justin Forsett.

Over the next six plays, Cleveland's defense played its best football of the day, and the Browns came away with a victory because of it.

The Ravens gained 6 yards on first-and-goal from the 10-yard line, went backward a yard on second down and couldn't complete a pass on third down and had to settle for a game-tying field goal. After winning the overtime coin toss, Baltimore appeared to sorely missed an injured Forsett and failed to gain a yard on three consecutive plays.

The Ravens had to punt and Cleveland took over in great field position at its own 35-yard line.

The Browns have plenty to clean up after a performance in which they surrendered 181 rushing yards and put the offense in a hole early by allowing two first-quarter touchdowns. The resiliency the unit showed at the end, though, was paramount toward a much-needed victory.

Red zone offense bounces back
John DeFilippo joked earlier this week he was sick of seeing kicker Travis Coons so much.

The Browns offensive coordinator saw mixed results Sunday, and it all depended on which half it was.

The Browns came away with three field goals and no touchdowns in the first half. Both of the sacks McCown took in Sunday's first half came on third down at or inside the 20-yard line. Like last week, the stats are a bit skewed, as the Browns drove 40 yards in a little more than a minute to set up Coons' 37-yard field goal to close the first half.

In the second half, Cleveland reached the red zone on back-to-back drives and delivered with touchdowns, the second of which gave the Browns their first lead of the game. The last series will go against the Browns' red zone stats, as Cleveland went inside the 20-yard line and came away with Coons' game-winning field goal, but no one's complaining about that.

Cleveland came into Sunday's game last in the NFL in touchdown percentage inside the red zone. The total stands at five touchdowns in five games after Sunday's performance.

Injury updates

The Browns brought back four key defensive players Sunday -- LB Scott Solomon, DB Joe Haden, DL Desmond Bryant and DB K'Waun Williams -- and saw two of them suffer injuries to different body parts throughout the course of the game.

Solomon, who had been out since Week 1 with an ankle injury, hurt his knee during the first half but was able to return in the second half. Haden, who was out with a rib and finger injury last week, hit his head hard early in the fourth quarter and underwent tests as part of the league's concussion protocol. He did not return.

Browns on wrong end of 3 challenges

When the officials went to look under the hood, they came back with bad news for the Browns on three separate occasions.

Early in the second quarter, Browns coach Mike Pettine challenged a play that was initially ruled an incomplete pass to Travis Benjamin. The review confirmed what was called on the field and Cleveland ultimately punted.

Cleveland overcame two successful Baltimore challenges on back-to-back plays. Duke Johnson Jr. initially had a 33-yard reception, but it was ruled a 14-yarder after replay showed he stepped out of bounds as he ran down the sidelines. One play later, a Brian Hartline 11-yard catch was ruled incomplete when replay showed he was bobbling the ball as he fell to the turf.

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