September 27, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) celebrates his second quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco (not shown) against the Cleveland Browns with tight end Dennis Pitta (88) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE

Ravens edge Browns thanks to Joe Flacco, defense

Joe Flacco threw for a touchdown and ran for another as Baltimore beat Cleveland, 23-16 in an AFC North battle on Thursday night. The game changing play came late in the third quarter when Ravens cornerback Cary Williams returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown.

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This is why Joe Flacco is so good

The Ravens beat the Browns on Thursday night with another impressive performance from Joe Flacco.


Ravens 'played just well enough to win' vs. Browns

It may have been closer than expected, but the Baltimore Ravens scored a divisional victory over the Cleveland Browns on a rainy Thursday night in Baltimore, 23-16.

Quarterback Joe Flacco tallied 356 yards passing, going 28-of-46 and throwing both a touchdown and an interception. The critical score of the night, however, came when Ravens cornerback Cary Williams picked off a Brandon Weeden pass and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter to give Baltimore the 23-10 lead at the time.

Bruce Raffel at SB Nation's Ravens blog, Baltimore Beat Down, noted that Baltimore got by, even with linebacker Paul Kruger's late-game penalty that gave the Browns another chance to tie the score.

Here are Raffel's post-game reactions from Baltimore Beat Down:

"The Baltimore Ravens played just well enough to win, holding off the Cleveland Browns 23-16. The game was not over until the game's final play, when Browns QB Brandon Weeden's pass fell incomplete. The game should have essentially been over the prior play when Weeden's fourth down pass also fell incomplete, but for some obvious non-thinking reason OLB Paul Kruger decided to commit a personal foul penalty, giving Cleveland one extra shot at the end zone."

The Ravens, now 3-1 on the season, will head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs on Oct. 7.


Joe Flacco throws for 356 yards in Baltimore win

The Baltimore Ravens overcame a late push from the Cleveland Browns to win 23-16 on a night where the game's biggest story was the return of the league's regular referees.

Joe Flacco rose to the occasion on the NFL Network's Thursday showcase, throwing for 356 yards, and scoring two touchdowns: one on an 18-yard pass to Torrey Smith and another on a one-yard run that prompted much celebration from the Ravens' QB.

The same can't be said for his opposite number, as Brandon Weeden performed as you'd expect a rookie quarterback to fare against Baltimore's defense. Completing just under 50 percent of his passes, Weeden painted the Browns into a corner following a third-quarter interception to Cary Williams, who ran the ball back 63-yards for a touchdown. Ultimately, this was too much for the Browns to overcome, despite a pair of late field goals from kicker Phil Dawson.

Thursday's game featured a scary moment in which Browns' WR Josh Cribbs lost his helmet in a strong but routine tackle which sent the receiver's head crashing into the turf without protection. He left the game and did not re-enter, though initial reports say the receiver is fine.

Neither team had an effective running game. Neither Ray Rice nor Trent Richardson was able to have a serious impact, as both running backs were held to under 50 yards rushing on the night. Richardson scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter, but was silenced after that.

Cleveland's defense did an excellent job getting after the quarterback, sacking Joe Flacco four times, but it wasn't enough to unhinge the QB. Baltimore's defense got a few good shots on Brandon Weeden, including this hit during the first quarter.

Both teams now have a 10-day wait before their Week 5 match-ups, with Cleveland heading to New York to face the Giants and Baltimore traveling to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.


Ravens' defense gets in the end zone

Cary Williams delivered a perfect pick 6 in Thursday's Browns-Ravens game, not to be confused with SB Nation's pick 6.

The Ravens cornerback picked off a Brandon Weeden pass and took it back 61 yards for the touchdown. Great play by Williams but a fairly easy play. You can't make this mistake right here, Weeden.


If you're going to be late, you can not be behind him like that because Williams can easily step in front of that. Throw it high, out of bounds or anywhere else but the spot he did put it. To make matters worse, there was only open field in front of Williams when he made the pick, allowing him to take it all the way back.

That's a game changer.


Watch a Joe Flacco spike on repeat

Joe Flacco knows what getting a two-score lead on the Browns means -- you're probably going to win. Flacco showed off his athleticism (or something like that) running it in for six on a bootleg from one yard out in Thursday's game against the Browns.


Look at that spike. Very enthusiastic.

Let's take a closer look, again and again:


Even closer now:




The moment Josh Cribbs lost his helmet

Josh Cribbs and the Browns were in for a scary few minutes when the Ravens' Dannell Ellerbe delivered a hit to Cribbs that appeared to knock him unconscious. NFL Network reported from the sidelines that Cribbs told trainers he was fine but he was quickly ruled out of the rest of the game.

The picture below gives you a good idea of the type of shot it was. Click here for the GIF of the hit.



Browns defense returns the favor on Flacco

Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense made their introduction to Brandon Weeden early on. As you can see with this GIF, Weeden was absolutely rocked by Lewis early in Thursday's game against the Ravens.

The Browns defense has returned the favor with this hit to Flacco:


Credit to both quarterbacks for staying in there. AFC North games usually consist of 1.) very little scoring and 2.) lots of big hits. The division is living up to its reputation on Thursday night.


Joe Flacco has a laser

The Ravens took a 6-0 lead over the Browns with a Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith laser in the second quarter. Look at this ball fly:


Flacco has one of the stronger arms in the NFL, not only on passes like this but on the deep ball, too. That works out well because Torrey Smith, who caught the ball above, is very good at the deep ball. He and Flacco have connected on three touchdowns in the last five and a half quarters.

And then of course special teams screwed it all up by missing the extra point.


Josh Cribbs knocked out by Ravens' hit

Cleveland Browns return man Josh Cribbs was knocked out after taking a hit that knocked his helmet off, then hitting his head on the turf in the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns.


Weeden's head shouldn't bend like that


That's Ray Lewis, in his 17th year in the league, sacking Brandon Weeden, in his third career game. This came on third down and ended the drive but give Weeden a little credit for standing up after it.

Check it out in motion -- he didn't know the hit was coming.


Ouch. Weeden's lucky he's still walking after that one. Even a slimmer, older Ray Lewis hits like a freight train.


Refs receive a round of applause

The crowd in Baltimore for Thursday night's game between the Ravens and Browns gave the real refs a standing ovation when they returned to the field for the first time since the lockout ended.


Browns vs. Ravens: Massaquoi out, Richardson in

WR Mohammed Massaquoi is out for the Browns as they get set to take on the Ravens on Thursday night. The good news for Cleveland, however, is that RB Trent Richardson is active.


Week 4 picks: Perfect teams stay perfect

SB Nation's Week 4 NFL picks see a blowout in Baltimore on Thursday night, the two undefeated teams winning again and Peyton Manning getting back in the win column.


Real refs assigned for Browns-Ravens on Thursday

The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens will be the first teams in the 2012 season to have their contest officiated by real NFL referees on Thursday night.

The seven-man officiating crew will be led by 10-year NFL referee veteran Gene Steratore and also includes 13-year veteran umpire Bill Schuster, head linesman Wayne Mackie, who has six years of NFL refereeing experience, line judge Jeff Seeman, with 11 years as a NFL official under his belt, field judge Bob Waggoner, a 16-year veteran, side judge Jimmy DeBell, who has been officiating in the NFL for four years, and back judge Greg Steed, an official with 10 years of NFL refereeing experience.

The replay official and replay assistant will be Larry Nemmers and Ken Dollar, respectively.

As for Week 4's remaining 14 scheduled games, officiating assignments will be announced for each on-site on game day after the NFL and NFL Referees Association's agreement on a collective bargaining deal Wednesday night.


Ravens heavy favorites over the Browns

The Baltimore Ravens are 13-point favorites for their game against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.


Ravens heavy favorites for Thursday night win

Joe Flacco has already earned wins on Sunday and Monday nights in 2012 and can make it a primetime trifecta with a Thursday night win.


Watch this: The best Week 4 games

Week 4 in the NFL could feature a few upsets ... or just some really bad games.


Baltimore not a unanimous favorite over Cleveland

The Baltimore Ravens are a heavy favorite on Thursday night, as they play host to the 0-3 Cleveland Browns.


Bet on the Ravens to beat the Browns

The Ravens have proven they are among the NFL elite, while the Browns are trying to prove they belong in the league at all. Baltimore opened as 13-point favorites for Thursday Night NFL action.

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