BALTIMORE — It will go down as one of the craziest games in recent memory.
None of that matters, because at the end of the day, it was just another bitter Browns loss.
Cleveland lost a close and wacky 16-10 showdown with the Baltimore Ravens on NBC's "Sunday Night Football." The defense intercepted former MVP Lamar Jackson four times, but the offense struggled to gain any traction, with a gutty Baker Mayfield unable to overcome a lackluster running game and a fierce Baltimore pass rush.
Jackson had one of his worst games in years, with a passer rating of only 46.5 However, the electric talent made two big plays in the third quarter that provided the difference: First a 39-yard toss that saw tight end Mark Andrews make a circus catch, and moments later a wild scramble in the backfield before finding an open Andrews for an 18-yard score.
Despite completing only 48.6% of his passes, the beat-up Mayfield did his best to keep the Browns in it, throwing for 247 yards (111 to Jarvis Landry) and a touchdown to David Njoku that cut the deficit to 13-10 late in the third. However, he was also sacked twice and fumbled in the first half when Cleveland had a chance to either tie it up or take the lead.
Denzel Ward, Grant Delpit, Ronnie Harrison, and John Johnson III all hauled in interceptions as the defense finally began to show its true potential, although the unit couldn't keep the Ravens from burning more than five minutes off the clock to make it 16-10. With 1:10 left and no timeouts, the Browns had one last chance from their own 25, but a pressured Mayfield threw three straight incompletions before a short pass to Njoku failed to move the chains.
Kareem Hunt returned from injured reserve, but he and Nick Chubb combined for a mere 36 yards on 15 carries. Worse still, All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin left the game early and may have torn his patella tendon, which would end his season after playing in only seven games.
Baltimore improves to 8-3 and remains first not just in the AFC North, but in the entire conference. Cleveland falls to 6-6, and while they remain in the playoff race, the margin for error is now virtually zero.
The Browns will finally get their bye in Week 13 before welcoming the Ravens to FirstEnergy Stadium on Dec. 12. Currently, they are 12th in the AFC, but still only a half-game out of the final postseason spot.
What follows is a comprehensive, drive-by-drive recap of tonight's action, with the most recent plays and updates closest to the top. Stay tuned for more analysis all evening long on both 3News and WKYC.com.
0:48: Baker Mayfield throws three straight incompletions before finally finding David Njoku on fourth-and-10, but the tight end can't reach the line to gain. Baltimore will take over in victory formation.
1:10 - Ravens 16, Browns 10: Lamar Jackson and the run game help the Ravens burn some clock and the drive ends with a 49-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. Baker Mayfield and the Browns will have one last chance, with no timeouts remaining.
6:34: Baker Mayfield can't find any open receivers and the Browns go three-and-out. Jamie Gillan's punt isn't his best, but still rolls to the Baltimore 24.
7:25: The Cleveland defense holds again, this time with Jadeveon Clowney batting away a Lamar Jackson pass on third down. Sam Koch punts it 50 yards and Demetric Felton can't find any room on the return, giving the Browns the ball at their own 33.
8:29: The Browns pick up a pair of first downs, but are driven back thanks in-part to a Tyus Bowser sack of Baker Mayfield. Devin Duvernay fields Jamie Gillan's punt, but is stuffed at his own 14 by A.J. Green.
12:54: Lamar Jackson goes deep for Mark Andrews again, but John Johnson III comes up with a crazy interception. It's the fourth of the night for the Browns' defense, and the team takes over at its own 13 down only three.
0:39 - Ravens 13, Browns 10: Baker Mayfield hits Jarvis Landry for a 38-yard gain and later finds David Njoku for a 20-yard touchdown. The call stands upon further review, and Cleveland is back to within three.
3:09: A roughing the passer penalty on Jadeveon Clowney keeps the Ravens moving, but Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah helps put a stop to the drive. Sam Koch's ensuing punt bounces out of bounds at the Browns 13-yard line.
7:56: Demetric Felton drops a pass on third down, forcing a Browns punt. Devin Duvernay fields it at the Ravens 14.
9:48 - Ravens 13, Browns 3: After Ronnie Harrison gets turned around, Mark Andrews somehow makes a 39-yard catch at the Browns 13 (despite being interfered with).
Three plays later, Lamar Jackson is chased, but escapes before finding Andrews for a 13-yard touchdown.
0:00: Two Baker Mayfield incompletions and a Kareem Hunt run force a Jamie Gillan punt, which goes out of bounds at the Ravens 30. Lamar Jackson takes a knee with a second left, and we head to the break.
0:21: This game is officially off the rails, as a wayward pass by Lamar Jackson is picked off by a diving Ronnie Harrison. Cleveland has it again at its own 33.
0:45: This strange first half continues as Baker Mayfield loses the ball while attempting a screen pass. The ball bounces all the way back to the Baltimore 49 before the Ravens' Odafe Oweh — who's been a force all night — pounces on it.
0:56: Grant Delpit — playing for an injured Ronnie Harrison — locks in on Lamar Jackson and gets his first career interception. He returns it to the Ravens 28, and the Browns miraculously could either tie or take the lead before halftime.
1:02 - Ravens 6, Browns 3: Cleveland can't past the Baltimore 28 following a pair of throws for first downs, and Chase McLaughlin comes out for another 46-yard field goal attempt. This time, it deflects off the left upright and through, finally putting the Browns on the board.
2:29: In a flash, the Browns get the ball right back, as a Lamar Jackson pass intended for Mark Andrews is deflected before Denzel Ward dives for his third interception of the year. Cleveland has it at their own 47, hoping to take the lead before halftime.
3:14: Following a 41-yard reception by Harrison Bryant that put the ball in plus-territory, disaster for the Browns, as a called pass play by Jarvis Landry gets blown up and the receiver fumbles the ball. Patrick Queen recovers at the Ravens 35.
3:53 - Ravens 6, Browns 0: Baltimore marches downfield and takes almost nine minutes off the clock, but Myles Garrett leads the Cleveland defense on an impressive goal-line stand. A false start prevents the Ravens from going for it on fourth-and-1, and instead Justin Tucker nails a 25-yard field goal.
12:34: A quick third-down conversion does no damage, as in the next such situation Baker Mayfield is flushed and forced to virtually throw it away. Devin Duvernay rips off a 22-yard punt return this time to give the Ravens the ball at their own 35.
0:24 - Ravens 3, Browns 0: Two penalties cost the Browns dearly: one for 12 men on the field (despite having three chances to get it right on fourth down), the other for a late Malik McDowell hit on Lamar Jackson. It leads to an easy 52-yard field goal by Justin Tucker to give the Ravens the early lead.
More bad news, as well: Right tackle Jack Conklin had to be carted off the field with a right leg injury and will not return.
4:02: A pass interference flag against Marlon Humphrey gives the Browns a first down near midfield, but they stall from there. Devin Duvernay returns Jamie Gillan's punt 14 yards to his own 26.
7:56: The Browns' defense gets off to a solid start, with a Myles Garrett sack of Lamar Jackson helping lead to a fourth down. It's Garrett's league-leading 14th sack of the year, tying Reggie Camp for Cleveland's single-season record.
Sam Koch's punt sails into the end zone, putting Baker Mayfield and the offense at their own 20-yard line.
11:41: Baker Mayfield comes out and hits Jarvis Landry for a couple of first downs, but a drop by Donovan Peoples-Jones helps lead to a 46-yard Chase McLaughlin field goal attempt. Unfortunately, it sails wide left, and the Ravens will take over at their own 28.
7:20 p.m.: Besides Conklin and Hunt, Donovan Peoples-Jones is also active after missing last Sunday's game with a groin injury. However, fellow wide receiver Rashard Higgins is a healthy scratch, as is fullback Andy Janovich.
Cleveland's other inactives include:
- WR Anthony Schwartz (concussion)
- S Richard LeCounte III
- DE Ifeadi Odenigbo
- T James Hudson III
- DT Tommy Togiai