BALTIMORE — The Browns’ late-season surge came to an end in Sunday’s regular season finale, but a feisty Cleveland fourth-quarter comeback kept it interesting to the very end.
Cleveland couldn’t stop Baltimore’s bruising, multi-faceted running attack in the first half and fell into a hole it ultimately couldn’t escape despite some dramatics at the end. The Ravens clinched the AFC North with their 26-24 win over the Browns, who saw their three-game winning streak snapped at a raucous M&T Bank Stadium.
The loss dropped Cleveland to 7-8-1 on the season and 3-2-1 in the division. The Browns, who already achieved their biggest turnaround in franchise history, finished in third place in the AFC North.
Baker Mayfield set a big record in the losing effort, throwing three touchdowns to make him the NFL’s all-time leader for most (27) in a rookie season. He threw two first-half interceptions but delivered a number of big throws to keep the Browns within striking distance. He completed six passes of 28 yards or longer, all but one of which went to different receivers. He finished with 376 yards, giving him a combined 718 in two games against the NFL’s No. 4 pass defense.
Mayfield’s 48-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry drew the Browns within six early in the third quarter and his 1-yarder to Antonio Callaway with 3:24 to play made it a two-point deficit. The Browns had one last chance after the defense picked up a big stop following the Callaway score, but had their hopes dashed for good when Mayfield was intercepted by linebacker C.J. Mosley on fourth-and-10 at Baltimore’s 39.
The Ravens powered their way to a two-touchdown lead in the first half with a running game that equally featured quarterback Lamar Jackson and running backs Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon. Baltimore racked up 297 yards on the ground -- the most surrendered all season by the Browns – and scored twice on Jackson keepers.
The Browns held an early lead when Mayfield connected with Breshad Perriman for a 28-yard touchdown in the first quarter but never got it back after Jackson’s 25-yard touchdown run put Baltimore ahead, 10-7, with less than 5 minutes to play in the first quarter. The advantage grew to 10 on the Ravens’ next drive, which was capped with an 8-yard Jackson touchdown run.
Player of the Game: Jackson kept the Browns defense guessing on every snap and ultimately finished with 179 passing yards, 91 rushing and two touchdowns. Close second was defensive back Jimmy Smith, who had both of Baltimore’s interceptions.
Best from the Browns: Mayfield finished his rookie season with another strong effort, giving him 3,725 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on the year.
Key Moment: With the Ravens on the cusp of scoring their third touchdown of the first half, the Browns seemingly got the big play they needed. Larry Ogunjobi popped the ball loose as Jackson extended it over the goal line, and Jabrill Peppers recovered it with a clear path to a long recovery touchdown. Officials, though, blew the play dead, initially ruling it a touchdown for the Ravens. After a review clearly showed Jackson hadn’t put the ball across the plane, officials gave the ball, but not the touchdown, to Cleveland. The Browns took over at the 7-yard line and went three-and-out.
Stat of the Game: The Ravens averaged 8.5 yards per carry on their 21 rushing attempts in the first half.
The Cleveland Browns play the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 17.