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Late breaks propel Ravens

A 7-yard punt and a record INT return give Baltimore a 27-13 win Sunday over the Browns.

By wire services
Published November 9, 2004

BALTIMORE - An incredibly short kick and the longest interception return in NFL history were the key elements in a harrowing victory for the Ravens.

Jamal Lewis scored the decisive touchdown with 7:03 left after a 7-yard punt, and Ed Reed sealed a 27-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns by running an NFL-record 106 yards with an interception in the waning seconds Sunday night.

The win was particularly satisfying because the Ravens fell behind 7-0 when Richard Alston returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a score.

"We stuck together. We didn't blink," said Travis Taylor, who had seven catches. "That's what this team is all about."

Back from a two-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy, Lewis ran for 81 yards on 22 carries. But his 2-yard burst into the end zone was set up by two outstanding plays by Baltimore's special teams.

First, rookie B.J. Sams made a diving save in the end zone to enable Baltimore to down a punt at the Cleveland 1. Then, after the defense yielded 1 yard on three plays, the Ravens pressured Derrick Frost into a wobbly kick that made the touchdown drive easy.

"I was trying to get it off quick. I saw the guy coming up the middle," Frost said. "It's all about timing. ... I knew it was going to be bad, but not that bad."

A two-point conversion gave Baltimore a 20-13 lead, but Jeff Garcia brought the Browns to the Ravens 5 before a pass deflected off Aaron Shea into Reed's arms. Reed then took off down the right sideline and reached the end zone with 26 seconds left.

"He seems to always be around it when you need it," Baltimore coach Brian Billick said. "He kind of waited to the end to do it. Might have saved my heart a little bit if he'd have done it earlier."

As Garcia deftly moved the Browns downfield, Billick was already thinking the worst.

"It was just a matter of whether they could go for two," he said.

But Shea was hit by linebacker Ray Lewis as the ball arrived, and Reed did the rest.

"I thought it was pass interference. I thought they would make the call, but they didn't," Shea said.

"I knew exactly the play they were going to try to run," Lewis said. "I told Ed it was coming.

Said Reed: "I really saw it the whole way. You didn't know if he was going to tip it or not. I just reacted."

Matt Stover kicked four field goals for the Ravens, who wore black uniforms for the first time.

"The defense time and time again stepped up to the challenge. We put it on the 5-yard line and they still somehow got it done," Stover said.

Alston stunned the Ravens and the crowd of 69,781 by putting Baltimore in a hole 14 seconds in. He shook off an attempted tackle by Chad Williams, then deked kicker Wade Richey around midfield before veering right and sprinting down the sideline into the end zone.

The Browns scored on the opening kickoff for the first time since September 1990, when Eric Metcalf went the distance against the Jets. Alston was activated off the practice squad to replace Andre King, who sprained his left ankle against Philadelphia before Cleveland's bye last week.

The Browns moved 72 yards in 13 plays before Phil Dawson kicked a 29-yard field goal to make it 13-12 with 14:14 left. The drive was extended by a pass interference call against Gary Baxter on third and 10 and aided by a 21-yard scramble by Garcia, who went 4-fo-5 during the march.

Stover's fourth field goal of the first half, a 36-yarder as time expired, had put Baltimore up 12-10. The play came after Garcia lost a fumble while being sacked by Adalius Thomas.

Aided by a roughing-the-passer call against Kenard Lang, the Ravens ended their second drive with a field goal. Late in the quarter, Dawson kicked a 49-yarder after Baltimore lost the ball on a botched handoff.

[Last modified November 9, 2004, 07:10:57]


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