Far-from-perfect Ravens off to best start in 7 years

The Associated Press
  • Baltimore rallied from a 20-point hole to beat Cleveland on Sunday, 25-20.
  • The 2-0 Ravens are off to their best start since the 2009 season.
  • Baltimore will visit winless Jacksonville on Sunday with a chance to move to 3-0.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens have plenty to improve upon before they can begin to entertain thoughts of being a contender in 2016.

In the meantime, they'll happily accept being unbeaten after two games, especially after rallying from a 20-point deficit Sunday to beat Cleveland 25-20 on the road.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh smiles as he walks off the field after Sunday's 25-20 win over the Cleveland Browns.

A year ago, Baltimore started 0-2 and finished 5-11. This season, the Ravens are off to their best start since 2009.

"We have seen progress," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "Our guys have done nothing but work really hard. Most importantly, they found a way to win games. Part of that is not losing games, either. We haven't made mistakes down the stretch that have cost us."

Buffalo and Cleveland are struggling teams that have yet to win a game this season, so Harbaugh and the players know they must play better to make some noise in the AFC North. That will be the focus heading into Sunday's matchup with host Jacksonville (0-2).

The Ravens will work on improving a running game that averaged 3.1 yards per carry Sunday. They'll try to fortify a defensive front that gave up an 85-yard run, and they'll seek to get off to a better start.

"You've got to learn from the things that don't go right," Harbaugh said. "It's all about getting ready for the next challenge."

Baltimore beat Buffalo despite scoring only one touchdown. Against the Browns, the Ravens dug themselves a formidable hole with just under 11 minutes elapsed and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to make up the difference.

After peeling off 25 straight points, Baltimore benefited from a call by the officials, who flagged Cleveland receiver Terrelle Pryor for taunting with 27 seconds left after he caught a pass at the 10.

Pryor flipped the ball away, and it brushed the shoulder of Ravens defensive back Lardarius Webb. The subsequent penalty nullified the 20-yard pickup, and C.J. Mosley sealed the victory with an interception near the goal line.

For Harbaugh, there's no harm in winning ugly.

"Everybody wants to be pretty," he said. "But maybe we're just not that pretty. We never really have been. It's really never been our calling card. But we're tough."

After the flawed victory, the Ravens adjourned to the locker room to celebrate the second-biggest comeback in franchise history.

"That was a great, amazing moment," Harbaugh said. "Pretty, ugly, whatever, it was a win, man. It was a beautiful, beautiful win. You don't come back from 20-0 often. In the end we won."

Playing in his second game since returning from a torn Achilles tendon, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs made three tackles after notching a sack in the opener.

Like the Ravens, his focus is on making progress each week.

Ravens storm back from 20-point hole to beat Browns

"I'm getting closer and closer, but the most important thing is we are 2-0," Suggs said. "We are going to keep chopping wood. We have 14 games to go. I feel great."

Suggs and the defense shut down Cleveland for the final three quarters. A year ago, the Ravens yielded 103 points in the fourth quarter. Over two games this season, they haven't given up a point in the second half.

Not that Harbaugh is satisfied.

"We have to get better. That's the bottom line," he said. "It's about being good. That's what we're chasing."

Harbaugh said there were no significant injuries to report from Sunday's game, and he expressed hope that linebacker Elvis Dumervil will make his 2016 debut against the Jaguars after missing the first two games recovering from offseason foot surgery.