Browns vs. Ravens score: Lamar Jackson overcomes cramps to lead Baltimore to a thrilling win over Cleveland
Monday's game might have been the NFL's best in 2020
Lamar Jackson overcame cramps and the Browns' defense to lead the visiting Ravens to a 47-42 win (the first such score in NFL history) over the Browns on "Monday Night Football." Jackson, who temporarily left the game in the fourth quarter, engineered two late scoring drives after coming back into the game. His 44-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown temporarily gave the Ravens the lead. His four completions on Baltimore's last drive set up Justin Tucker's game-winning 55-yard field goal with two seconds left.
With the win, Baltimore swept the season series against Cleveland while improving to 8-5 on the season. The Ravens stay alive in the AFC playoff picture, while the Browns (9-4) failed to gain ground on the 11-2 Steelers for first place in the AFC North.
Both teams scored touchdowns on their opening drives. Nick Chubb capped off the Browns' 81-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run. Jackson's five-yard touchdown run six minutes later finished off Baltimore's 73-yard drive. Midway through the second quarter, Gus Edwards' 11-yard touchdown run gave the Ravens their first lead. Baltimore's lead didn't last long, however, as the Browns tied the score on Chubb's 14-yard touchdown on Cleveland's ensuing offensive possession.
Jackson's 44-yard run set up Edwards' 19-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the third quarter. And after Kareem Hunt's five-yard touchdown run temporarily trimmed the Ravens' lead to eight points, Tyus Bowser's interception of Mayfield set up J.K. Dobbins one-yard score, as Baltimore took a 34-20 lead into the fourth quarter.
Cleveland rallied in the fourth quarter. They made it a six-point game on Mayfield's 21-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins on a fourth down play less than two minutes into the quarter. The Browns then took the lead on their next possession, with Mayfield keeping it himself for a five-yard score. Mayfield finished the night with 343 passing yards while leading a Browns offense that gained nearly 500 yards.
Jackson, who missed nearly full two series with cramps, threw his touchdown pass to Brown on his first play back into the game on fourth down. Jackson's brilliance was quickly matched by Mayfield, who tied the score with a 22-yard throw to Hunt with 1:04 left. The Browns ultimately left too much time for Jackson, whose four completions for 38 yards set up Tucker's game-winning field goal.
Here are some instant takeaways from Monday night's Ravens win:
Why the Ravens won
First and foremost, they dominated on the ground. We all knew, coming in, that Cleveland could run the ball, but the Ravens all but regained their 2019 form under the lights, with Lamar Jackson unleashing several big scrambles to pace both sides and both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins ripping off steady gains all night. Despite missing a few wide-open deep shots to Mark Andrews and only throwing 17 passes, Jackson was also surprisingly deadly through the air, connecting with Andrews and Marquise Brown for game-altering big plays, including a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown. His return from an extended trip to the locker room saved the day, injecting instant dynamism into their attack. Defensively, Batimore's corners actually did a fine job keeping things in front of them early on, and by the time they wore down in the second half, Greg Roman's ground game was already firing on all cylinders. Justin Tucker, meanwhile, remained clutch with a perfect 55-yard field goal to seal it.
Why the Browns lost
Honestly, it might've been their single turnover. You can obviously blame their defense, which was a sieve when it came to defending Baltimore's rushing attack. But the difference in this game, a constant back-and-forth that saw both sides eclipse 385 offensive yards and nearly split the time of possession, was that only one team gave the ball away. The unfortunate thing is Baker Mayfield's third-quarter pick, which essentially gifted Baltimore points, was about the only serious misstep by the QB on an otherwise promising duel with Jackson and the Ravens. Otherwise, it's hard not to point a finger at Cody Parkey, whose missed 39-yard field goal and missed extra point cost the team four points in what essentially was a three-point decision (with Baltimore's final two coming on a meaningless safety). On a bad week for kickers around the league, Parkey's misses didn't totally derail Cleveland's chances in this game, but they certainly contributed to the loss.
Lamar Jackson's re-entry, no doubt. Jackson was cooking on the ground before abruptly trotting to the locker room in the second half to deal with an onslaught of what he called cramps, and for a while, it looked as if the Browns might steal the win working against backup Trace McSorley. Then McSorley injured himself on a critical third down with 2:12 to play, Jackson glided back into action like Superman fresh off a vacation, and No. 8 proceeded to drop a perfect floater to Marquise Brown for the fourth-down TD to go up 42-35 and keep momentum rolling in Baltimore's favor.
Play of the game
Jackson's go-ahead TD loft to Brown was the most important, but Lamar was just as, if not more, dazzling on his earlier throw to Mark Andrews, which showcased some of his elite pocket elusiveness:
The Ravens (8-5) will host the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-12), who are turning back to Gardner Minshew as they spiral toward a top draft pick. The Browns (9-4) will be back under the prime-time lights in Week 15, when they visit the New York Giants (5-8), who are fresh off a loss to the Cardinals.
Credit Justin Tucker for the clutch kick, but let's not overlook the Ravens' offense and how poised they were. Lamar Jackson led this unit 38 yards down the field on six plays. Great finish to a great game.
It took just 47 seconds for the Browns to tie the score. Jackson has a lot of time, though, he has one timeout and 1:04 to work with. The question is his health.
This is a sports moment people will remember for a long time. Lamar Jackson comes back into the game and immediately tosses a 44-yard touchdown pass to Hollywood to retake the lead