Baltimore Ravens

Game 8: Ravens go on the offensive

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.

It capped a big game for Mason and Clayton, who combined for 13 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns.

"As wide-outs, we're taught that as soon as you get the ball in your hands, turn up the field," Mason said. "Typically, when you turn up the field, good things happen. When you start dancing, nothing good happens."

Later in the fourth quarter, the Ravens received their big play from the ground game.

Taking an inside handoff from Flacco in the shotgun, Rice raced through the hole and faked out former Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson to break a 60-yard run.

"As a running back, you always want to see one-on-one," Rice said. "Your eyes get big when you see that hole really big. You know how fast it can close at this level."

Rice, though, knows his day could have been better.

He was stopped 3 yards short of the end zone on the 60-yard run, and he was held 2 yards shy on an 18-yard catch earlier in the game.

"One thing is I have to start finishing," Rice said. "I'm going to start putting some points up."

But this win will be remembered by how the offense did finish in delivering its largest comeback of the season (17 points in 10 1/2 minutes).

"I think we did a great job of getting what we wanted," Flacco said. "We felt like they wanted to put pressure on us and we converted on those chances - enough for the win."