The Ravens needed help Sunday to get to the postseason, but got that and also took care of business to return to the promise land of the NFL postseason.
The Browns hung around vs the Ravens into the fourth quarter, but the offense finally came to life, scoring 17 points to take home a 20-10 win.
Down 10-3 in the fourth quarter, the Ravens kicked a field goal and then took the lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith with 7:33 left.
Flacco’s 2-yard TD throw to Kamar Aiken with 3:44 remaining clinched it.
To reach the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, the Ravens needed help from the Chiefs, and Kansas City helped with a win over the Chargers in KC.
Rookie quarterback Connor Shaw got the Browns to a 10-3 lead in the fourth, but finally both the offense and defense delivered, holding Cleveland in check and scoring two TD’s and a field goal.
Flacco went 8 for 9 for 161 yards and two touchdowns during a 17-point fourth quarter. He finished 22 for 36 for 312 yards, and the two TD passes gave him a career-high 27 for the season.
Justin Forsett had 119 yards rushing for the Ravens, who will open on the road next weekend.
With quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel out with injuries, Shaw made his NFL debut for Cleveland. The Browns were also without suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon, and they placed cornerback Justin Gilbert on the inactive list after the rookie reportedly showed up late for a team meeting.
The Browns took a 10-3 lead in the third quarter when Shaw went 3 for 3 during an 80-yard drive. Shaw scrambled in the pocket before connecting on a 49-yard completion to rookie Taylor Gabriel, who started in place of Gordon. That was followed by a 2-yard touchdown run by Terrance West.
Baltimore closed to 10-6 with 10:37 left when Justin Tucker kicked a 28-yard field goal after a 39-yard completion from Flacco to tight end Owen Daniels.
Cleveland followed with three straight runs and a punt, giving the Ravens the ball again with 8:23 to go.
Flacco completed a 53-yarder to Smith before hitting the wide receiver in the middle of the end zone for the go-ahead score.
West ran for 94 yards and Shaw went 14 for 28 for 177 yards, but the Browns finished the season with five straight losses and serious off-the-field issues that must be resolved.
For now though, it appears the Ravens will play either the Bengals or Steelers, as the two will play for the AFC North title on Sunday night in Pittsburgh.