CLEVELAND — Jason Campbell could barely breathe. Browns fans couldn’t exhale.
And as the Cleveland quarterback, who had finally brought the team some hope, laid on the field after being flattened by Ravens heavyweight defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, Campbell thought he might have broken ribs.
That’s when running back Willis McGahee screamed at him.
“He said, ‘Get up, get up. You’ve got to get up’,” Campbell said.
Campbell shook off the pain, got to his feet and helped the Browns end an 11-game losing streak against Baltimore.
Campbell threw three touchdown passes as Cleveland beat Baltimore for the first time since 2007 on Sunday with a 24-18 victory over the Ravens, who dropped their third in a row and appear to be a shell of the team that won the Super Bowl last season.
With the Browns (4-5) clinging to a three-point lead, Campbell took the Browns on a clock-eating, 67-yard drive to set up Billy Cundiff’s 22-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining that put away the Ravens (3-5), who have lost four of five and are one game out of last place in the AFC North.
“We’ve been the kid brother in this division for a long time,” said Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, who twice risked going for it on fourth down. “The guys’ approach this week was outstanding. They believed.”
Campbell, making his second start after Brandon Weeden was benched, completed 23 of 35 attempts for 262 yards. But it was his toughness after getting hurt and his poise in the final minutes with the game hanging in the balance that led the Browns to a monumental win. Cleveland is back in the playoff conversation heading into its bye week.
Campbell had X-rays afterward, and said it would have taken something serious to keep him off the field.
“I wasn’t coming out,” the nine-year veteran said. “They would have to drag me out of the game. I wanted to stay out there with those guys and keep fighting. We talked all week about needing to get this win. I just thought the guys on both sides of the ball fought extremely hard.”
Campbell threw two of his TD passes to Davone Bess, who shook off a miserable performance last week at Kansas City when he fumbled a punt and had a big drop in the final minutes.
Greg Little had seven catches for 122 yards.
Campbell connected with Bess for a 3-yard pass on fourth down with three minutes left to help the Browns seal their first win over Baltimore since Nov. 18, 2007, a string that started when quarterback Joe Flacco and coach John Harbaugh began with the Ravens.
In a similar situation last week, Bess let a pass from Campbell bounce out of his hands, costing the Browns any chance of upsetting the unbeaten Chiefs.
“I didn’t really make it a personal deal,” Bess said of his bounce-back game. “We knew what kind of game this was going to be. I was just excited and happy to be there for my teammates. I dropped the one last week and that definitely went through my head. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again.”
With Baltimore desperately needing the ball in the closing minutes, Campbell evaded pressure before making his big completion to Bess and later alertly flipped the ball to running back Chris Ogbonnaya to set up Cundiff’s field goal that made it 24-18.
The Ravens had one last chance, but running back Ray Rice, who hasn’t been the same since injuring his hip in Week 2 against Cleveland, was tackled near midfield as the Browns beat Baltimore for the first time since Nov. 18, 2007.
Flacco finished 24 of 41 for 250 yards, but Baltimore’s offense sputtered most of the game against Cleveland’s vastly improved defense. In fact, Flacco was Baltimore’s leading rusher with 25 yards.
In the first quarter, Campbell couldn’t escape a sack and then had the 340-pound Ngata land on him. Ngata was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the play.
Campbell had to come out for a handful of plays, bringing in the twice deposed Weeden, who completed one pass for minus-2 yards.
Following the game, Campbell said he spoke with Ngata.
“He told me he wasn’t trying to do anything on purpose,” Campbell said. “He’s not a dirty player. He’s a really good standup football player and came to me after the game and apologized.”
The Browns, though, didn’t apologize for the win.
“Chud said it was time to end this beating we’ve been taking,” said Browns linebacker Paul Kruger, who played for the Ravens last season. “We did what it took and it feels good.”
NOTES: The Browns have 11 sacks in their past two games. … Little injured his right shoulder at the end of a 46-yard reception in the fourth quarter. He returned briefly, came out again, but was on the field for Cleveland’s final drive. … The Browns are off to their best start through nine games since 2007, when they were 5-4. … Chudzinski said LB Darius Eubanks is being evaluated for a head injury. … Browns LB Quentin Groves re-injured his ankle and TE MarQueis Gray (hamstring) and LB Eric Martin (knee) also went out. .. CB Joe Haden had his first interception this season the 10th of his career.