The Cleveland Browns werent afraid of the pass-happy attack of the Ravens on Thursday.
It was the running of Ray Rice, who had 291 yards rushing in two games against the AFC North foe last season, which concerned the Browns most.
So they stacked the line of scrimmage and dared quarterback Joe Flacco to air it out. And he did.
In a light drizzle at M&T Bank Stadium, Flacco was 28-for-46 for 356 yards and a touchdown in a 23-16 victory. The Ravens have won 12 in a row at home and 21 of their last 22.
If you come into the game and your main goal is to stop the run, youre going to stop the run, said Rice, who finished with just 49 yards on 18 carries as he failed to reach the end zone. Its not hard to put a pencil on a guy and say, Were going to shut their guy down and make the rest of the team beat us. Thats what they did in the run game.
That was fine with Flacco, who hit Torrey Smith for an 18-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter and ran the ball in from one yard to start the third as the Ravens appeared to be on their way to a comfortable victory.
But their inability to move the ball allowed Cleveland to stay alive. While it is a winless team, it didnt play like one.
You hope they theyre all easy, but they are not. This is the National Football League. This is the AFC North, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. When you watch the Cleveland Browns on tape, you knew what kind of game you were going to get.
Rice worked his way into the passing game, getting eight catches for 47 yards. Anquan Boldin had his best game of the season, getting nine catches for 131 yards. He had 10 for 118 in the first three games combined. Torrey Smith had six catches for 97 yards.
The game-changing play came from the Ravens defense. With the offense stagnant late in the third quarter and the Browns driving behind just 16-10, cornerback Cary Williams intercepted Brandon Weeden and took it back 63 yards for the touchdown in what would prove to be the winning margin.
It was Williams first interception of his career. He was beaten on a 43-yard pass play that set up Clevelands only touchdown in the second quarter when Trent Richardson ran the ball in from one yard out.
The Ravens have played four games in 17 days, including on Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football in high-profile affairs. Theyre looking forward to 10 days until their next game on the road Oct. 7.
We were fortunate to get (the three) games at home, so we didnt have to travel, Flacco said. Its physically tough. Its good that we came out with a win and now we can get a couple of extra days to heal up and get ready to play Kansas City.