The Cleveland Browns staged an impressive comeback on Sunday, overcoming a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to secure a significant 33-31 victory against the division-leading Baltimore Ravens. The pivotal moment came when Dustin Hopkins kicked a game-winning 40-yard field goal as time expired, reinvigorating the 6-3 Browns’ position in the AFC North race. Cleveland, eyeing their first division title since 1989, now trails the 7-3 Baltimore by a mere half-game.
In a remarkable turn of events, the Browns, who hadn’t clinched a win after trailing by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for nine years, joined an exclusive club. They became only the fourth team in the Super Bowl era to win a game after trailing in the opening minute and not leading until the final minute of regulation.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson, a central figure in this comeback, acknowledged the significance of the victory, labeling it a “big moment” for the team. Despite facing challenges, including a pick-six early in the game and completing just 6 of 20 passes in the first half, Watson exhibited resilience after halftime, finishing the game with 14 completions for 134 yards and a crucial touchdown. Notably, he orchestrated the final possession, completing all three of his passes for 30 yards and rushing for a first down, setting the stage for the game-winning field goal.
Coach Kevin Stefanski praised Watson’s tenacity, describing him as a “warrior” who makes plays even when they seem elusive. Cleveland faced its largest deficit, 24-9, but responded with a resilient 17-play, 10-minute touchdown drive. Watson’s 2-point conversion run capped off this drive.
Watson’s performance drew admiration from teammates, with All-Pro guard Joel Bitonio emphasizing his focus throughout the week. The Browns, who trailed for an impressive 59 minutes and 20 seconds, achieved a rare feat, with no NFL team this millennium winning while trailing for such an extended duration.
For the Ravens, it marked a significant setback, representing the second-largest blown fourth-quarter lead in Coach John Harbaugh’s 16-year tenure. Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike expressed shock and frustration at the unexpected turn of events.
The victory held particular significance for the Browns, given their previous 28-3 loss to the Ravens. Watson, absent in that matchup due to injury, returned last weekend in a 27-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Despite his struggles since joining the Browns, Watson’s resilience and performance against the Ravens showcased glimpses of his past success.
Despite missing key offensive tackles, the Browns, with a depleted line, managed to keep the offense moving in the second half against the top-ranked Baltimore defense in efficiency.
Looking ahead, the Browns view this victory as a “big statement” and a “defining” moment, with momentum heading into the second half of the season. Watson emphasized the need to harness the team’s current energy and power as they prepare for a crucial divisional matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.