Justin Tucker

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) kicks a 32-yard field goal as time runs out to beat the Cleveland Browns 23-21 in an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Justin Tucker nailed a 32-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to give the Baltimore Ravens a 23-21 win over their AFC North foes, the Cleveland Browns, on Sept. 21 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

Trailing 21-20 with two minutes left in the game, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw a 33-yard pass down field to veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr. to get the Ravens up in field goal range. Baltimore then ran the clock down to four seconds before setting the reliable Tucker up for an easy chip shot.

The Ravens’ defense forced a three-and-out during the Browns’ previous offensive series, giving Baltimore another shot at winning the game. Flacco and the Ravens had an earlier chance at retaking the lead; down 21-20, they had the ball with about four minutes left in the game, but were not able to get past midfield and punted the ball back to Cleveland with 2:30 left. But Baltimore’s defense held Cleveland to just three plays and gave their offense a second opportunity.

Flacco’s final stats weren’t pretty, but he was nonetheless effective. He completed 19 of 31 pass attempts for 219 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Flacco’s one touchdown pass came in the second quarter on a nine-yard connection with full-back Kyle Juszczyk that pushed Baltimore ahead, 10-7.

Cleveland battled Baltimore throughout the game and consistently responded to the Ravens’ big plays with big plays of their own. Rookie running back Isiah Crowell scored on a 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to give Cleveland a 14-10 lead. Crowell rushed for a team-high 55 yards, sharing reps with a fellow Browns rookie running back, Baltimore native and Towson alum Terrance West, who had 36 yards and a touchdown.

Lorenzo Taliaferro

Baltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, top, pushes through to the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run against the Cleveland Browns in the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

But the Ravens had a rookie running threat of their own in Lorenzo Taliaferro, who rushed for a game-high 91 yards and a touchdown. Veteran running back Justin Forsett also ran well for Baltimore, carrying 11 times for 63 yards.

Smith led the team with five catches for 101 yards. He left the game after taking a big hit in making his clutch 33-yard catch to set up the game-winning field goal, but was not reported as injured after the game. However, veteran tight end Dennis Pitta did suffer a serious injury, hurting the same right hip he injured last season. Pitta was carted off the field.

Next up: Baltimore (2-1) will face the Carolina Panthers (2-0) at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 28. Kickoff set for 1 p.m.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor