CLEVELAND (AP) — On a sometimes bewildering day in Baltimore, when nearly every play threatened to swing the outcome in either direction, a simple run became symbolic.
The Cleveland Browns kept pushing.
As Deshaun Watson, playing almost flawlessly despite a tender left ankle, drove the offense to set up a game-winning field goal as time expired to beat the Ravens 33-31, he handed the ball to Jerome Ford, who appeared to be stopped for a short gain on first down.
That's when Ford's friends showed up.
With the Ravens doing all they could to strip the ball from him, Ford got assistance as Cleveland's entire offensive line, along with tight end David Njoku and receivers Cedric Tillman and Elijah Moore, came to his aid and shoved the pile forward, turning a nondescript run into a pivotal 12-yard gain.
"My favorite play of the game, honestly,” coach Kevin Stefanski said.
The scrum encapsulated a game in which the Browns (6-3) overcame not having their starting offensive tackles, the Ravens scoring on a pick-6 on the game's second play, Watson twice turning his ankle in the first half and a rash of mistakes in the fourth quarter — including a muffed punt, missed extra point and defensive penalties.
In many ways, the play exemplified Cleveland's season.
The Browns have showed resilience and fight, whether withstanding the loss of offensive stars Nick Chubb and Jack Conklin to season-ending knee injuries or winning two games with backup quarterback P.J. Walker while Watson was sidelined with a right shoulder injury.
Much of the credit goes to Stefanski, who has quieted his critics by keeping his team focused.
The Browns remain a flawed team, but it's November and they have a chance to win the tightly bunched AFC North. That's something of a feat, considering the adversity they've faced.
Cleveland's running game rumbles on.
Although they had backups at both tackle spots, the Browns picked up 178 yards rushing against a Baltimore defense that came in allowing just 91 per game.
In five games since the bye week, Cleveland has gained over 150 yards rushing four times — all of them without Chubb.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Browns were called for 10 penalties, including a couple for defensive holding that extended Ravens scoring drives.
This was the Watson the Browns have been waiting to see regularly.
He was superb in the second half, completing 14 of 14 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown while delivering the kind of clutch performance Cleveland expected when it mortgaged its future and signed him to a fully guaranteed, $230 million contract last year.
In the past three games he's started and finished, Watson has completed 68% of his passes (66 of 97) for 721 yards with five TDs and one interception.
Punt returner James Proche II's drop on the first play of the fourth quarter put the Browns in a big hole.
The Ravens capitalized on his miscue and scored a touchdown — though it took them seven plays to go 12 yards — to open a 31-17 lead.
Proche only recently moved into the spot as Cleveland's primary returner, and he'll likely stay there despite the unforced error.
The Browns were awaiting MRI results on Watson, who left the stadium in a walking boot after twice twisting his ankle in the first half. Watson wasn't concerned the injury is serious and vowed he will play in this week's game against Pittsburgh. ... CB Denzel Ward also had imaging tests taken on his neck after he was struck in the helmet by Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. Ward was cleared for a concussion but didn't return. ... S Juan Thornhill injured his calf, but Stefanski didn't have an update on him either. ... The Browns don't know if starting rookie RT Dawand Jones (shoulder/knee) will be back after sitting out Sunday.
6 — Consecutive seasons for defensive end Myles Garrett with at least 10 sacks. Garrett is one of seven players in NFL history to accomplish the feat, joining Reggie White, John Randle, DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen, Bruce Smith and Lawrence Taylor. Allen is the only one not in the Hall of Fame.
A rematch at home against the division rival Steelers, who beat the Browns 26-22 in Week 2.
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