CLEVELAND | His fiery, fearsome eyes scanned Baltimore‘s sideline, looking for any teammate who didn’t believe a comeback was possible.
Ray Lewis wasn’t giving up - and he wasn’t about to let the Ravens quit, either.
“He told the whole team, ‘We’re going to win this game,’” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “You could see the truth in his eyes.”
Inspired by their emotional linebacker’s words, the Ravens scored 24 unanswered points in the final 16 minutes and rallied for a 37-27 win against the up-and-down Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Matt Stover kicked three field goals, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes and first-year running back Ray Rice ran for 154 yards to lead the Ravens (5-3), who seemed to be in big trouble when they fell behind 27-13 in the third quarter. With Lewis leading the way, Baltimore bounced back and won its third straight.
“Ray Lewis is the greatest general, the greatest leader - hands down - of our time,” said Suggs, whose 42-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:43 left put it away.
Lewis refused to take credit for the comeback but knew his comments awakened the Ravens.
“I told every one of them, ‘Look me in the eye,’” Lewis said. “I told them we are going to win this game. We have to believe that. Adversity builds character.”
The Browns (3-5) had built their 14-point advantage thanks to Joshua Cribbs’ 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, two touchdown passes by quarterback Derek Anderson and two field goals by Phil Dawson, who closed the first half by converting a career-long 54-yarder.
But Cleveland collapsed, and no play hurt more than receiver Braylon Edwards’ drop of a certain long touchdown early in the fourth quarter with the score tied. By the time the ball slipped through his hands and fell to the ground, the Browns’ promising season had fallen into serious jeopardy.
“We didn’t finish,” said running back Jamal Lewis, who was held to 49 yards on 19 attempts. “That’s the lesson of the day - finish.”
Stover, who ranks fifth in league scoring history, made field goals of 41, 32 and 22 yards. Flacco, who threw touchdown passes to Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason, completed 17 of 29 passes for 248 yards. Mason, the sure-handed 13-year veteran, had nine catches for 136 yards, and Rice, filling in for the injured Willis McGahee, had a breakout game that included a critical 60-yard run in the fourth that set up Stover’s last field goal.