Browns hold off Ravens with defensive stand to score a big division win
The Browns got the rest they needed in Week 13 and came back Sunday with the big win they needed to keep pace in a jam-packed AFC playoff race.
Cleveland built a big lead in the first half and never let go on its way to a 24-22 victory to get some immediate revenge on the Ravens, who downed the Browns just two weeks earlier.
"Ultimately, we did what we set out to do," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said, "which is come in here and get a win versus a good team in our division, and then we will set our sights on next week tomorrow."
The win moves the Browns to 7-6 and puts them right back in the thick of things in the AFC North. The division-leading Ravens lost their second straight to drop to 8-5.
It didn't come without a fight, especially in a dicey final few minutes as the Ravens nearly came back from a 21-point deficit.
Leading by nine, the Browns surrendered a touchdown to TE Mark Andrews with 1:17 to play and then gave the ball right back to Baltimore when they failed to secure an onsides kick. The Browns delivered the definitive stop of the game a few plays later when Denzel Ward tackled Rashod Bateman well short of the first-down marker on the Ravens' fourth-and-6 attempt with 56 seconds to play.
"I think it was a great play by Denzel, but it is indicative of when everybody does their job – coaches, we put those guys in position and then you get 11 guys to do their job," Stefanski said.
"Those are nail-biter situations. I do not think we wanted to be in that situation. Listen, that is the NFL, and that is certainly December football versus a good football team, a well-coached football team. Proud of the guys in going 1-0 today."