Ravens cornerback Corey Graham buried his face in his hands in the locker room Sunday night, occasionally shaking his head in apparent sadness and bewilderment following a 24-18 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Standing nearby, cornerback Lardarius Webb spoke in a hushed tone with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head. Webb said he couldn't remember ever being so frustrated after a football game.
"It's frustrating," Webb said. "We got to go back to work. It was tough."
It was that kind of game for the Ravens' defense, as the secondary was too often confused and a step behind the Browns' receivers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Veteran quarterback Jason Campbell engineered the Cleveland victory, tying a career high by throwing three touchdown passes to snap the Browns' 11-game losing streak against the Ravens.
"It's just really rough," said Graham, who was beaten twice for touchdowns by slot wide receiver Davone Bess. "It seemed like everything went those guys' way. We couldn't get a break. We just got to play better. It's real simple. We have to make more plays than we are making right now.
"Those guys went out there and made a lot of plays. The receivers made plays for the quarterback. It just [stinks] right now. It's tough. Everybody needs to get better."
This marks the first time that Campbell threw three touchdowns since a Dec. 6, 2009 game against the New Orleans Saints, when he played for the Washington Redskins. Making just his second start since 2011, Campbell completed 23 of 35 passes for 262 yards and no interceptions for a 116.6 quarterback rating.
His signature play came in the fourth quarter when he escaped the pressure in the pocket on fourth down and connected with Bess for a three-yard pass completion and clutch first down during the Browns' final scoring drive.
"I thought Jason Campbell played exceptionally well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That last play on fourth-and-1, I think would be a good expression of how he played, played really well, moving around, scrambling on that drive as well. We couldn't keep him corralled in the pocket like we needed to."
The completion to Bess allowed the Browns to keep moving, and ultimately spelled the end for the Ravens as the defense was unable to get a stop when it absolutely had to.
"It was a huge play, probably the biggest play of the game," said Campbell, who briefly left the game with a rib injury caused by a hit from nose tackle Haloti Ngata, and underwent X-rays afterward. "We wanted to make sure that we got the first down. I didn't want to throw it unless I knew somebody was going to be open. I said to myself that I would just have to scramble around to see if I could find somebody open."
Bess caught a one-yard touchdown pass against Graham in the first quarter where he quickly gained position to create an opening for Campbell and open the Browns' scoring.
On his 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter, Bess separated from Graham and easily juked Webb to the ground in the open field after the catch to reach the end zone untouched. Two of Bess' three receptions went for touchdowns.
Campbell's mobility and pocket presence continually paid dividends for the Browns, who were led by wide receiver Greg Little's game-high seven catches for 122 yards.
"Jason Campbell would just scramble, scramble and either run or get rid of it at the last second and deliver it to somebody," Graham said. "It seemed like they made all the plays they needed to make and we didn't."
There was one inexplicable touchdown surrendered by the Ravens.
Operating from the pocket with plenty of time to locate his targets, Campbell lobbed a four-yard pass to tight end Gary Barnidge in the third quarter to boost the Browns' lead to 21-10. Barnidge was left completely alone in the end zone, with no defender in the vicinity to challenge the routine pattern.
The Ravens looked disorganized and unprepared on that score.
"That was a complete error on our part," Harbaugh said. "The substitution error, that's on us as a coaching staff. There were some things that we didn't communicate well on, a couple of times we played too loose of coverage, especially in the first drive."
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