Derrick Mason

Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason scores on a 28-yard catch-and-run to tie the game at 27 in the fourth quarter. (Baltimore Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby / November 2, 2008)

As Terrell Suggs danced in the end zone, the Ravens began celebrating their 37-27 victory over the Cleveland Browns after yet another big play by their defense.

But make no mistake: This victory was unlike any other this season, or perhaps even the past decade.

Although Suggs' 42-yard interception return for a touchdown sealed the win, it was the Ravens' long-struggling offense that earned it.

Down 27-13 in the third quarter, the Ravens (5-3) scored on three of their next four drives for their third straight victory, a win that pulled them within a half game of the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers.

Touchdowns on consecutive series - a 1-yard dive by Le'Ron McClain and a 28-yard catch-and-run by Derrick Mason - tied the game at 27. Then, Ray Rice's 60-yard run set up Matt Stover's 22-yard field goal, which put the Ravens ahead for good with 5:36 left in the game.

"You can feel what's happening here," Suggs said. "You can feel the sense of team being formed. That's what we've been searching for all these years."

In their last game, the Ravens' offense dazzled everyone with its trickery. This one was defined by how the Ravens responded to adversity.

Down 14 points - the Ravens' vaunted defense surrendered touchdowns on the first two possessions of the second half - Joe Flacco faced third-and-16 after getting sacked. Without flinching, the rookie quarterback connected with Mason for a 20-yard pass over the middle, which jump-started the rally.

Flacco completed six of his next seven passes for 85yards, and Rice ran for 95 yards during that critical four-drive sequence.

"Obviously it didn't look great," Flacco said of trailing 27-13 with 6:07 left in the third quarter. "But there was a ton of time left in the game and you have to look your guys in the eye and tell them, 'We're going to go out there and we're going get this done.'"

In the nine seasons under former coach Brian Billick, the Ravens' offense usually never got it done. But with two rookies - Flacco (17-for-29 for 248 yards and two touchdowns) and Rice (154 yards on 21carries) - the offense is breaking new ground.

The Ravens finished with a season-high 429 yards on offense - 122 more than their average - and scored the most points on the road since Nov. 7, 1999, when they won at Cleveland, 41-9.

"I think the defense is more proud of what the offense did today than the offense is," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

The difference in the Ravens' offense yesterday was the big play.

That mind-set was established in the first quarter. After Mark Clayton failed to catch a pass in the end zone on the first drive, Flacco went back to him on the second one.

He hit Clayton on a post pattern for a 47-yard touchdown, which put the Ravens ahead 10-0 and gave Clayton his first score in his past 66 receptions.

"It shows the aggressiveness of our offense," Clayton said of the second chance. "When we have something, we're going to attack it."

The Ravens exploded again to tie the game in the fourth quarter.

Mason caught an 8-yard pass, turned as cornerback Eric Wright dived at his feet and ran 20yards untouched for the touchdown.