Two minutes and 18 seconds away from their statement game, the Ravens fell silent yesterday.

Losing control on defense and lacking discipline on offense, the Ravens took a two-fisted blow to the gut from the Cleveland Browns in a 14-13 loss, virtually knocking themselves out of the playoffs before a hushed crowd of 69,348 at Ravens Stadium.

With their postseason hopes on the line, the Ravens surrendered an improbable eight-play, 92-yard touchdown drive to a Browns team without any timeouts. Tim Couch's 1-yard scoring pass to a wide-open Mark Campbell with 29 seconds left doomed the Ravens in a game they had led for 34 straight minutes.

The loss - the Ravens' first when leading entering the fourth quarter - had linebacker Peter Boulware muttering "too easy" as he walked off the field and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogdencursing loudly in the locker room.

"I'm really speechless about it," cornerback Gary Baxtersaid. "You could feel our playoff drive just go down the drain."

The Ravens (7-8) actually still have faint playoff chances.

Thanks to the New York Jets beating the New England Patriots last night, the Ravens could qualify for a wild-card spot if they beat Pittsburgh on Sunday and six other AFC teams (Patriots, Jets, Browns, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers) all lose next weekend. If the Patriots had won last night, the Ravens would have been eliminated.

Before the late game, the Ravens could only question themselves on their fourth-quarter effort against an AFC North rival.

"This is very devastating," quarterback Jeff Blakesaid. "It was a great opportunity to prove something to a lot of people, and we were so close."

The dramatic collapse caught the Ravens off-guard because they had won five games this season by shutting down the opposition on the final drive and had limited the Browns to 82 yards on 36 plays after the opening series.

But the Browns didn't blink with 2:18 remaining, moving the ball from their 8-yard line to near midfield in a matter of three pass completions. Cleveland then kicked into gear on poor pursuit by the Ravens' defense and poor judgment by cornerback Chris McAlister.

Couch completed a short pass over the middle to running back Jamel White, who ran free for 20 yards on a 28-yard catch because the Ravens failed to close in and tackle him in their soft zone. To make matters worse, McAlister shoved White, who was already a few yards out of bounds, to draw a 14-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

The drive's biggest play - which totaled 42 yards - ushered Cleveland from its own 45 to the Ravens' 13 with 1:26 left in the game.

McAlister rushed past reporters in the locker room without saying a word. "You've got to be smart," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It's unfortunate to do that at that time."

After a 12-yard pass to Kevin Johnson got the Browns to the 1-yard line, running back William Green got stuffed at the goal line for no gain.

Couch, who was 6-for-7 for 78 yards on the final drive, then rolled to his right and connected with an unmarked Campbell for the 1-yard touchdown capping a length-of-the-field drive in 1:49. Dropping back in coverage, defensive end Adalius Thomashad man-to-man coverage on Campbell but lost him on a gamble, trying to jump on a corner route.

"I took my eyes off my man," Thomas said. "It was my man, my fault."

The Ravens got the ball back at their own 16 with 24 seconds remaining, but their methodical offense couldn't come up with big plays.

Blake, who completed just six passes for 62 yards in the second half, threw an incompletion to Chester Taylor and then was picked off on a pass that deflected off tight end Todd Heap. Cleveland ran off the final six seconds to seal its third win in the four-year series vs. the Ravens.