A game that featured nearly 800 yards in offense, an interception return for a touchdown, helmet-loosening hits and a thrilling finish may best be remembered for what it didn’t have: Controversy over the officiating.
The regular officials returned to the field Thursday night, and they nearly had to work overtime on their first day back. Rookie Brandon Weeden misfired on two passes into the end zone in the final seconds, allowing the Baltimore Ravens to escape with a 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland (0-4) began its final drive with 1:05 to go on its own 10. Weeden moved the Browns to the Baltimore 33 before a fourth-down pass into the end zone fell incomplete. But a personal foul penalty on Baltimore linebacker Paul Kruger gave the Browns one more chance, however the pass sailed out of the end zone.
Joe Flacco went 28 for 46 for 356 yards, threw one touchdown and ran for another. Yet, it wasn’t until Cary Williams returned an interception 63 yards for a score at the end of the third quarter that the Ravens (3-1) put some distance between themselves and the Browns.
It was the 13th consecutive home victory for the Ravens, the longest current run in the NFL, and their streak of 10 straight wins in the division is also the most of any team. Baltimore has also won nine straight over Cleveland.
Anquan Boldin caught nine passes for 131 yards, and Torrey Smith had six catches for 97 yards and a score.
Weeden went 25 for 52 for 320 yards, but rookie running back Trent Richardson gained only 47 yards rushing on 14 carries. Dawson kicked field goals of 51, 50 and 52 yards, the last one with 4:33 left to make it 23-16.
The Ravens will travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs next Sunday.