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November 3, 2013

Browns beat Ravens 24-18, end long losing streak

CLEVELAND — The Browns punched the AFC North’s biggest bully in the mouth.

The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens are wobbling.

Jason Campbell threw three touchdown passes — two to Davone Bess — and the Browns ended an 11-game losing streak against Baltimore, beating the Ravens 24-18 on Sunday.

Campbell’s 3-yard pass to Bess on fourth down with three minutes left helped the Browns (4-5) seal their first win over Baltimore since 2007. A week ago, Bess dropped a pass in a similar situation in the closing minutes of a loss at Kansas City.

The Ravens (3-5) lost their third straight and didn’t win in the week following a bye for the first time in six tries under coach John Harbaugh.

Baltimore’s Joe Flacco had a pair of TD passes to rookie Marlon Brown, but the Super Bowl MVP couldn’t rally the Ravens, who made too many mistakes and are in danger of missing the playoffs.

Making his second straight start after Brandon Weeden was benched, Campbell completed 23 of 35 passes for 262 yards. The nine-year veteran was at his best in the closing minutes, when the Browns ran 6:30 off the clock to finish off the Ravens, who have lost four of five.

Campbell, who briefly left the game in the first half with a rib injury, evaded pressure before making his big completion to Bess and later alertly flipped the ball to running back Chris Ogbonnaya to set up Billy Cundiff’s 22-yard field goal with 14 seconds left to put the Browns ahead by six.

The Ravens had one last chance, but running back Ray Rice was tackled near midfield as the Browns beat Baltimore for the first time since Flacco and Harbaugh arrived.

Browns wide receiver Greg Little had seven catches for 122 yards.

Flacco finished 24 of 41 for 250 yards, but Baltimore’s offense sputtered most of the game against Cleveland’s vastly improved defense.

Down 21-10 and running out of time, Flacco connected with Brown for a 7-yard TD with 12:09 left and then hit him again for the 2-point conversion to cut Cleveland’s lead to three. Tandon Doss, who earlier fumbled away a punt, set up the score with a 36-yard return that sparked the Ravens.

But it was the Browns who made the big plays in the closing minutes, none more important than Bess’ grab as coach Rob Chudzinski went for it on fourth down with 3:12 left.

The Browns capitalized on a muffed punt by Doss to open a 21-10 lead in the third as Campbell threw a 4-yard TD pass to Gary Barnidge with 5:11 left. Baltimore’s defense, missing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, was uncharacteristically confused during the sequence as the Ravens were penalized for having 12 men on the field and Barnidge was able to slip away from the line uncovered.

After looking dysfunctional for most of the first half, the Ravens came alive in the final minute and pulled to 14-10 on Flacco’s 19-yard TD pass to Brown, an undrafted free agent, with nine seconds left.

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