BALTIMORE — The Browns were neither able to overcome a short turnaround nor the Ravens.
They fell to Baltimore, 28-7, Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium on three days of rest in what was a night defined by defense and the Ravens' second-half surge.
Cleveland, which fell to 0-10 this season, forced quarterback Joe Flacco into two interceptions and mounted a lead at halftime.
But the Browns themselves couldn't generate much firepower, finishing with 144 total yards and 11 first downs. Two late turnovers also proved costly, dashing their hopes of leaving Maryland with their first taste of victory.
The Ravens, meanwhile, found their stride after intermission, scoring 25 unanswered points. Flacco tossed three touchdown passes to three different receivers, while the vaunted Baltimore defense locked down Cleveland — which elected to play quarterback Josh McCown and sit the rookie Cody Kessler in the third quarter — and its best efforts.
Neither signal-caller had a particularly productive outing: McCown finished with 59 yards and two interceptions, while Kessler totaled 91 yards and a touchdown pass to rookie tight end Seth DeValve, which gave the Browns its first and only lead of the night.
The night unfolded as a defensive battle, as both teams traded punts and penalties. A scoreless first quarter — which saw them combine for 100 yards of offense — saw the Ravens find success in their ground game late in the period.
That effectively came to an end, however, when Flacco's heave to Steve Smith Sr. was intercepted by the rookie cornerback Briean-Boddy Calhoun, who was called into action in place of an injured Jamar Taylor.
He wasn't the only youngster who stood out Thursday. After falling behind 3-0 in the second quarter, the Browns took the lead when Kessler tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to DeValve. The play capped a gutsy seven-play, 75-yard drive and seemed to suddenly put Baltimore on its heels.
In the background, Cleveland's defense — which has struggled in recent weeks — buckled down against a Ravens offense that used big plays to top the Steelers last Sunday to nestle itself atop the AFC North.
The Browns held Baltimore to 164 yards, sacked Flacco twice (including once on 3rd down) and kept big playmakers in Smith and Mike Wallace in check.
That success, though, waned in the second half. The Ravens went back on their run game and let Flacco — who finished with 296 yards on 30-of-41 throws — air it out. His was a far from perfect effort. Flacco tossed his second interception — this time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden in the end zone — that cut a promising series short.
Yet on a night that watched the Browns offense struggle, they weren't able to capitalize. And instead, Cleveland remains in pursuit of its first victory.
The Browns play the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10.