A wild, back-and-forth night at FirstEnergy Stadium ended with the Browns on the wrong side of one of the NFL's most memorable games of 2020.
Justin Tucker's 55-yard field goal with 2 seconds to play ultimately served as the final, game-winning score in a game that featured just about everything. The Browns came back twice — first from a 14-point deficit and then from a seven-point advantage with less than 2 minutes to play — but it wasn't enough, as the Ravens closed it out with one last scoring drive to outlast the Browns, 47-42.
"We came here to get a victory, and we didn't," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Very hard-fought game on both sides. I appreciate how the guys battled, but we just did not do enough to get a win."
The loss snapped Cleveland's four-game winning streak and dropped the Browns to 9-4 on the season. Baltimore moved to 8-5 with its second straight victory.
Neither Stefanski nor any Browns players were chalking Monday night's loss — a far cry from the Browns' lopsided season-opening loss to the Ravens — in the "moral victory" category.
"We lost. We got beat," Stefanski said. "Proud of the guys and how they battled – I really am – but I just look at all the mistakes that we made, and we have to correct them. For us to reflect on Week 1 to Week 13, I do not think we are really in that mind frame."
Baker Mayfield was the catalyst for a Browns offense that simply wouldn't quit despite facing multiple, double-digit deficits throughout the second half. He threw for a season-high 343 yards — 209 coming in the second half — and two touchdowns, the second of which going to Kareem Hunt to tie the score, 42-42, with 1:04 to play.
Baltimore's Lamar Jackson carried the Ravens with his feet through the first three quarters, missed most of the fourth with cramps but returned just in time to lead Baltimore to the victory. He threw a 44-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with less than 2 minutes to play to eliminate the Browns' brief fourth quarter lead and completed four passes for a combined 38 yards on the Ravens' game-winning possession.
"When you play a team like that, Lamar is an unbelievable player and he is just going to make a lot of plays," said Mayfield, who has thrown for 300 or more yards in four of his six career games against the Ravens. "You go into that game knowing that you are going to have to score points. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We just have to be better, and that is that."
Jackson's return from the locker room with 2 minutes to play and the Browns leading, 35-34, kick-started a frantic finish.
With the Ravens facing a fourth-and-5 following an injury to backup Trace McSorley, Jackson not only got the first down, but went for the end zone. Jackson rolled to his right and waited just long enough to find Marquise Brown wide open for the 44-yard touchdown. Baltimore added the two-point conversion to make it 42-35.
The Browns came right back, racing down the field 75 yards on four plays, but they ultimately left the Ravens too much time. Mayfield's game-tying, 22-yard touchdown pass to Hunt came with 1:04 left in the game.
Jackson completed four straight passes before spiking the ball with 8 seconds to play. Tucker made the kick with plenty to spare and left the Browns with just 2 seconds for a miracle. After a series of laterals, Jarvis Landry stepped out of the back of the end zone for a game-ending safety.
Jackson finished 11-of-17 for 163 yards and a touchdown and added 124 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
"This is a player's league, and guys are going to make plays," Stefanski said. "We knew that going into it that you are not going to pitch a shutout versus Lamar Jackson. He is going to get his. Having said, that there are a bunch of plays I know we can do better. We have to really look at those and make sure that we correct those mistakes."
Nick Chubb rushed for two more touchdowns and led the Browns with 82 yards on the ground. Hunt added 33 yards and a rushing touchdown to go along with a team-high six catches for 77 yards.
Donovan Peoples-Jones caught a 30-yard pass on the Browns' game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter and finished with 74 yards. Rashard Higgins had six catches for 68 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Landry added six catches for 52 yards.
The Browns out-gained the Ravens 493-385.
"We made mistakes, really from myself to the coaches to the players to the offense, defense and special teams," Stefanski said. "We just were not clean enough to beat a good team, and that is disappointing."
Cleveland had the game's only turnover, and it was a costly one, as it set up an easy touchdown for Baltimore and ended Mayfield's five-game streak of passes without an interception.
Tyus Bowser's interception of Mayfield ended a streak of 187 passes without a pick, the fourth-longest stretch in Browns history. It promptly set up a 1-yard touchdown run by J.K. Dobbins that put the Ravens ahead, 34-20, with 4:21 to play in the third quarter.
"Bowser made a great play," Mayfield said. "I just have to be able to see him dropping in underneath that stop route and take care of the ball. Plain and simple, just take care of the ball and give ourselves a better chance to win."
The two-touchdown lead, Baltimore's second of the half, didn't last long.
Cleveland converted a fourth down early in the ensuing possession with a catch and run by Landry and found the end zone on fourth-and-5 from the Ravens' 21-yard line. Mayfield evaded some initial pressure, hung in the pocket and found a wide-open Higgins for a 21-yard touchdown. The Browns followed with a two-point conversion to make it 34-28 with 13:36 to play.
The Browns got the ball right back after forcing a three-and-out against a Jackson-less Ravens offense and reclaimed the lead with a methodical, power-running heavy 12-play, 70-yard drive. Mayfield closed it out with a 5-yard touchdown scramble, punctuated by a baseball slide, to tie it up. Cody Parkey's extra point gave the Browns their first lead since the first quarter with 6:33 to play.
Jackson and the Ravens just weren't done, and they had a few more answers than the Browns in one of the NFL's highest-scoring games of the season.
"We are a very different team than we were in the beginning," Mayfield said. "We have improved in a lot of ways, but we just have to find a way to win. These division games, they mean a lot so we just have to figure out a way to win. They are a good team. We just have to be better."
The Browns came out hot in the first quarter, executing a flawless opening drive that resulted in their sixth touchdown in as many first-half possessions. The rest of the half didn't come as easily, though, and they found themselves trailing, 21-14, at the end of it.
Chubb scored twice for the Browns, scooting into the end zone from 7 yards to cap the Browns' 11-play, 81-yard drive to open the game before adding a 12-yarder to tie the score, 14-14, with 4:16 to play in the second quarter. Chubb, who sits in a tie for 7th league-wide with nine rushing touchdowns, became the first Browns player since Jim Brown to register at least eight rushing touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.
Baltimore just had an answer each time.
Jackson capped the Ravens' first offensive possession with a 5-yard touchdown run. His 20-yard run set up a Gus Edwards' 11-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter, putting the Browns behind by a touchdown for the first time in weeks.
The biggest play of the half came with less than a minute to play and the Browns on the verge of forcing a three-and-out. Instead, Jackson — limited to minus-8 passing yards up to this point — wiggled out of trouble, avoided multiple sack attempts and lofted a 40-yard pass to TE Mark Andrews. One play later, Jackson found the end zone on a 17-yard run to put the Ravens ahead at the half.
The Browns are back in action Sunday Night when they face the New York Giants.
"I always say that the close losses are harder than getting blown out," Chubb said. "We have to take it one game at a time. I don't know where we are right now [in the playoff scenarios], but the only thing that matters is the next game. We will focus on the next game and figure everything else out after that."