Defensive Ravens win 27 - 13 over Browns

BALTIMORE -- Through the fingertip reactions of Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed and a timely shanked punt, the Baltimore Ravens flexed enough defensive muscle to manufacture a 27-13 nail-biting win over the Cleveland Browns.<br><br> The Ravens outdueled elusive Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia as Reed galloped 106 yards on an interception with 26 seconds remaining Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium to establish an NFL record and keep the Browns out of the end zone.

"I saw it the whole way," Reed said. "I just reacted. We never gave up. We fought. We never quit."

With linebacker Ray Lewis draped on his back, tight end Aaron Shea dropped a Garcia pass just inside the end zone and Reed caught the football inches off the ground to begin his game-clinching touchdown jaunt. The score kept Garcia from completing an epic drive keyed by his resiliency to rough contact and his ability to improvise.

"It was a game of momentum," Reed said. "They're going to get some bounces, but we just have to stay focused and stay together as a team."

Minutes before Reed's dramatic return, former Ravens free agent castoff punter Derrick Frost flubbed a seven-yard punt out of his own end zone while appearing concerned about the pressure of linebacker Bart Scott and Reed, the Ravens capitalized in the fourth quarter.

Three plays after taking over at the Browns' 7, All-Pro runner Jamal Lewis scored the game-winning touchdown by plunging up the middle in his return from a two-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy. Lewis' decisive touchdown was followed by a two-point conversion pass from Kyle Boller to rookie wide receiver Clarence Moore.

Clad in black uniforms that debuted Sunday, the Ravens' defense was the most intimidating aspect of the team. The Ravens constantly harassed Garcia, sacking him three times and forcing one fumble to make up for an unproductive offense.

The Ravens totaled only 248 yards of total offense, but limited Cleveland's offense severely.

There are no style points in the NFL, and the win was the most critical goal for the Ravens (5-3) as the defending AFC North champions needed to win this game to stay within two games of the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-1).
Jamal Lewis rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries, but wasn't used much in the first half. He was limited to 34 yards on 12 carries in the first half. Boller completed 17 of 30 passes for 142 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions for a 69.0 passer rating.

Prior to Frost's punt, rookie return specialist B.J. Sams downed the football at the Browns' 1 by leaping to throw the football backward. An instant-replay review upheld the call that he never touched the ground before lateraling the ball.

Outside linebacker Adalius Thomas' hit on Garcia dislodged the football and defensive end Tony Weaver pounced on the fumble at the Browns' 48 with 1:04 remaining in the first half and Baltimore trailing 10-9.
After Boller set the table with four completions for 26 yards, Matt Stover booted his fourth field goal of the game. His 36-yard kick briefly staked Baltimore to a lead in a low-scoring battle where both offenses were at the mercy of their defensive counterparts.

Cleveland answered with another Phil Dawson field goal set up by Garcia's elusive scrambling to take a 13-12 lead.

Cleveland wide receiver Richard Alston darted 93 yards for a touchdown on the opening kickoff.

He reversed field, ran through an arm tackle attempt by safety Chad Williams and juked kickoff specialist Wade Richey to the ground to complete the stunning return. Veteran defensive back Corey Fuller was noticeably out of his coverage lane on the play.

Trailing 7-0, the Ravens responded first with an 18-yard B.J. Sams punt return to the Baltimore 42.

Then, a roughing the passer penalty on Cleveland defensive end Kenard Lang aided the Ravens' cause.

Four plays later, Stover converted a 44-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.

A fumbled exchange between Boller and Lewis set up Cleveland's second score.

The fumble was credited to Boller with defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban recovering at the Ravens' 32.

Although the Ravens' defense limited Cleveland to one yard on four plays on the drive, the Browns still scored as Dawson knocked through a 50-yard field goal for a 10-3 advantage.

On the ensuing possession, Stover converted a 39-yard field goal to close the gap to 10-6 as Baltimore completed a 10-play, 52-yard drive that lasted 4:15.
Once the defense forced another punt, the Ravens drove to the Cleveland 33 for Stover to kick a 43-yard field goal. His score was set up by an 8-yard pass to Moore preceded by a 14-yard fullback dive from Alan Ricard.

NOTES: Nickel back Deion Sanders left the game with an injury to his left toe and didn't return. He dropped a pass when he lined up at wide receiver, running before he had secured the football. … He was replaced by Fuller. … The Ravens were without two Pro Bowl offensive players due to injuries: offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and tight end Todd Heap.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and

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