Flacco, Ravens atop AFC North after win over Browns
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens gained sole possession of first place in the AFC North at the expense of the winless Cleveland Browns, who reached a historic low point in franchise history.
Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes, and the Ravens used a strong second half to notch a 28-7 victory Thursday night.
Baltimore trailed at halftime before gaining control during a third quarter in which Flacco went 10 for 12 with two scores.
The Ravens (5-4) have won two in a row following a four-game losing streak. Baltimore is the only team in the division above .500.
Cleveland (0-10) has opened a season with 10 consecutive losses for the first time since joining the NFL in 1950. The Browns have dropped 11 straight on the road since winning in Baltimore in October 2015.
The defeat left Cleveland's all-time record at 461-461-10. The Browns have never been below .500.
Down 7-6 at halftime, the Ravens moved 64 yards on their first possession of the third quarter to take a 13-7 lead. Flacco connected with five different receivers on the drive, closing with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Darren Waller.
Browns coach Hue Jackson then opted to insert Josh McCown at quarterback after watching starter Cody Kessler go 10 for 17 for 94 yards. McCown's second pass was intercepted, giving Baltimore the ball at the Cleveland 40 with a chance to break the game open.
The Ravens moved to the 15 before Flacco heaved an ill-advised throw into the end zone that was picked off by Joe Haden.
Baltimore's next drive, however, was run on a short field. After a 32-yard punt gave the Ravens the ball at the Cleveland 43, Flacco threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith, and a 2-point conversion made it 21-7.
A 27-yard touchdown throw to Breshad Perriman sealed it with 6:21 remaining and marked the 10th straight game in which the Browns yielded at least 25 points.
Flacco went 30 for 41 for 296 yards and two interceptions.
McCown went 6 for 13 for 59 yards. He was picked off twice and lost a fumble when hit by Terrell Suggs, who was playing with a torn biceps.
“Adrenaline. Adrenaline was working tonight,” Suggs said.
Jackson said Kessler will start the Browns' next game, at home against Pittsburgh on Nov. 20.
The first time these teams played this season, the Ravens had to rally from 20 points down to pull out for a 25-20 win. Baltimore needed another comeback in this one, though the deficit wasn't nearly as imposing.
After their first three series produced two punts and an interception , the Ravens gained possession at the Cleveland 48 following a punt and used a 25-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
Kessler followed with a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Seth DeValve, and at that point the Browns looked very little like a team that hadn't won a game in 11 months.