Red zone a black hole for Browns in 25-15 loss

Associated Press Published: November 4, 2012
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CLEVELAND (AP) — The red zone was easily within the Cleveland Browns' reach.

The end zone was way off limits.

Unable to score a touchdown on five trips inside Baltimore's 20, the Browns settled for five field goals by Phil Dawson and lost 25-15 on Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens, who defeated Cleveland for the 10th straight time and sent their AFC North rivals searching for answers following another game that slipped away.

"It's deflating every time you lose, but especially this one," said cornerback Joe Haden, who was beaten by wide receiver Torrey Smith for a 19-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco with 4:26 left as the Ravens (6-2) rallied after blowing a 14-point lead and doing nothing on offense for two quarters.

The Browns (2-7) came in brimming with confidence after beating San Diego last week. At last, it seemed as if Cleveland had finally gotten past the mistakes that doomed it earlier this season. But this was another loss filled with missed chances, costly penalties, confusion and questionable strategy.

Several Cleveland players left the stadium feeling angry and frustrated. The typically upbeat Haden abruptly ended his postgame interview and walked out.

"I'm tired of coming up close and not getting over the hump," said linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who played despite an assortment of injuries. "I've had my fair share of close ballgames and not pulling them out, just being fed up with it and guys have to understand if we want that feeling like we had after last week's game, it's not easy in this league."

Smith caught Flacco's strike and spun away from Haden as the Ravens won their 15th straight game following a loss, and eased some of the sting from a 30-point blowout at Houston two weeks ago.

Baltimore improved to 5-0 after a bye week under coach John Harbaugh, who has never lost to the Browns in 10 tries.

Harbaugh was relieved following a rugged division game that included hard shoves, kicking, taunting and the usual amount of animosity.

"Whew," Harbaugh said. "That was a fight. That's a really good football team. They are building something here. They are an up-and-coming AFC North-style team."

But until the Browns figure out how to score TDs and clean up their mistakes, they're destined to lag behind Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The only time Cleveland got into the end zone, quarterback Brandon Weeden's 18-yard TD pass to rookie Josh Gordon was nullified by an illegal formation penalty.

"It's frustrating," said running back Trent Richardson, who gained 105 yards. "But we can't point fingers. We all have to be accountable for what we do. I've got to run harder. We gotta make better calls. We have to make sure we pick up blocks and catch the ball, and we have to do the right things.

"Once you're in the red zone, you gotta score some kind of way."

After Gordon's TD was negated because running back Chris Ogbonnaya lined up improperly, Browns coach Pat Shurmur, whose play selection has been second-guessed for two seasons, called a draw to Richardson that was stopped for no gain. Dawson kicked a 41-yard field goal to give the Browns a 15-14 lead with 8:48 to play.