CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns started fast, but the Baltimore Ravens finished strong and scored 25 unanswered points on their way to a 25-20 win in an AFC North Division matchup at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Quarterback Joe Flacco’s 25-of-45 showing for 302 yards with two touchdowns and the combination of tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Mike Wallace carried the comeback. Pitta turned nine receptions into 102 yards, and Wallace scored a pair of touchdowns in the come-from-behind victory.
The Browns totaled just 126 yards and seven first downs in the second half.
The Browns came out firing on all cylinders against the Ravens, and scored on their first three possessions on the way to a 20-2 lead after the first quarter of play.
Rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman got things started when he hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass from McCown and gave the Browns a 7-0 lead over the Ravens with 9:45 to play in the first quarter of the home opener.
Facing a third-and-10 after gaining back the 10 yards from an offensive pass interference penalty, McCown took the shotgun snap from center Cameron Erving, dropped back in the pocket and lofted the pass deep down the left side of the field.
Behind the coverage of a Ravens defensive back, Coleman hauled in the pass and got two feet down in bounds before being pushed out of the back of the end zone. An official review of the play upheld the call on the field of a touchdown.
McCown and the Browns went three for three in third-down conversion attempts on the opening drive of the game, and in his first start in 10 months, the veteran quarterback completed three of his four throws for 67 yards with the touchdown.
Prior to the touchdown, McCown completed a 28-yard pass to running back Duke Johnson Jr.
After forcing a Ravens punt on the ensuing drive, the Browns went to running back Isaiah Crowell, and behind an initial block from center Cameron Erving and the left side of the offensive line, he sprinted his way through Baltimore’s front seven. Then, Crowell found another gear and outsprinted the entire Ravens defense down the field and into the end zone for a touchdown.
With Crowell’s touchdown run, the Browns took a 14-0 lead over the Ravens with 6:47 to play in the first quarter.
Wanting to establish the run game after a 122-yard performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, 40 of which came on the final three plays of the 29-10 loss, the Browns went to Crowell five times on their first two drives, and he responded by gaining 101 yards with the long scoring run.
The 85-yard run was the longest ever of any Browns player against the Ravens, and the second-longest scoring rush in franchise history.
Following the touchdown run from Crowell, the Browns’ defense ratcheted up the pressure and forced an interception of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Four plays later, they turned the miscue into a touchdown, as McCown completed an 11-yard pass to Coleman.
With the touchdown, the second McCown-to-Coleman scoring play of the game, the Browns took a 20-0 lead over the Ravens, but the impending extra point try was blocked and returned 63 yards for a safety. At the 4:37 mark of the first quarter, the Browns held a 20-2 lead over the Ravens.
The Browns’ third touchdown of the game was set up by the defense, as two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden intercepted Flacco’s pass that was intended for veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. on a second-and-six play from Baltimore’s 29-yard line.
The Ravens struggled through the first quarter, but found their way into the end zone on a pass from Flacco to wide receiver Mike Wallace with 1:15 to play in the first half.
Facing a second-and-goal from the seven-yard line, Flacco took the snap and found Wallace with inside position on a slant from the right side of the formation for the touchdown, a scoring play that capped off a six-play, 75-yard drive and cut the Cleveland Browns’ lead to 20-9 late in the first half.
The Ravens started the first half slow, but ended the second quarter with a pair of scoring drives, including a 52-yard field goal from Justin Tucker as the clock expired, and those scores cut the Browns’ lead down to a single possession, 20-12, at the halftime break.
Tucker’s field goal capped off a seven-play, 27-yard drive that started with an interception of McCown on a pass deep down the left sideline.
In the second half, the Ravens took a 22-20 lead over the Browns when Tucker buried a 49-yard field goal with 11:19 to play in the fourth quarter. Tucker capped off the five-play, 27-yard go-ahead drive that was set up by a missed 52-yard field goal from Browns kicker Patrick Murray on the previous possession.
The Ravens extended their lead over the Browns to five points, 25-20, on a 41-yard field goal from Tucker with 2:53 to play in the fourth quarter. Tucker’s third field goal of the game, all of which have come from at least 41 yards out, capped off an 11-play, 41-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock.