Ravens' 20-10 win sends them to playoffs and starts Browns on offseason of reflection



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BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens are back in the playoffs, and they don't mind one bit that it took them until the final game of the regular season to get there.

It doesn't matter that they're the No. 6 seed, either. As far as Baltimore is concerned, at this point everyone is even.

"We all know the history. It's a 0-0 tournament right now," coach John Harbaugh said after Sunday's 20-10 win over Cleveland "We've been on the road plenty of times in the playoffs as a group. We're as dangerous as anybody else, at least."

To qualify, the Ravens (10-6) needed to beat the Browns (7-9) and San Diego had to lose to Kansas City. That is precisely what happened, and now Baltimore is back in the postseason after missing out in 2013.

The Ravens open Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

"It feels good," said quarterback Joe Flacco, whose two fourth-quarter touchdown passes brought the Ravens back from a 10-3 deficit. "I remember sitting at home last year, a week from now, and it didn't feel very good."

The Browns, on the other hand, will have a long offseason to ponder what went wrong following a promising 7-4 start.

Owner Jimmy Haslam said coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer "absolutely" will return next season. Between now and then, Pettine will have to straighten out some personnel issues, most notably the questionable behavior of rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert and suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon.

Some things worth nothing about the Browns-Ravens game:

RUNNING WILD: Ravens running back Justin Forsett ran for 119 yards and finished with 1,266 for the season.

His performance Sunday included a 32-yard run in the second quarter and carries of 27 and 26 yards over the final seven minutes.

"To open those runs up in the fourth quarter, to finish the game, that's what you need to do," Harbaugh said. "Especially this time of year."

With 17 carries of at least 20 yards, Forsett broke the single-season franchise record of 16 set by Jamal Lewis in 2001.

SHAW SHINES: With Cleveland quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Manziel out with injuries, Connor Shaw went 14 for 28 for 177 yards in his NFL debut. He lost a fumble, threw an interception and was sacked four times.

"Being a rookie quarterback, I knew they were going to pin their ears back and bring some heat," Shaw said. "For the most part, I thought we handled it well. There were just a couple times where it was a coverage sack. When they put us in a third-and-long situation, it puts us in a bad spot."

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: Pettine finished his first season at the Browns' helm with a 7-9 mark, and though there are question marks aplenty as heading into another offseason, safety Jim Leonhard thinks Cleveland has found a solution at head coach.

"Mike Pettine is the right coach to lead this team," Leonhard said after the final game of his 10-year NFL career. "Early on, we really turned things around. None of us wanted the season to end like this. Nobody is more upset about this than he is. This is the guy that will make this program get better."

NGATA ON DECK: The four-game suspension of Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata ended Sunday, and Baltimore expects its exceptional run-stopper to start in Pittsburgh.

Ngata was suspended by the NFL for using the amphetamine Adderall without a prescription.

"I'm confident Haloti will be ready to go," Harbaugh said. "That's his job, to be ready to go. I'm confident he'll do it. He has done it before. He has been there; he knows what's at stake. "

Rookie Timmy Jernigan, who replaced Ngata over the past month, hurt his foot Sunday and will have an MRI on Monday to determine his status for the playoffs.

"It's very unfortunate about Timmy Jernigan, but he's young," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "But it's great to get my brother back, to (get) one of the leaders of this team back. That's huge for us."

PLAYING ILL: Though he was cleared to play after a shoulder injury, Browns defensive back Joe Haden battled flu-like symptoms to make three tackles Sunday.

"That's the kind of guy he is," Pettine said. "He could have just said, 'No, I missed the last game, I'll go ahead and miss this one, too, and head into the offseason and get healthy.' He went out there under the weather, clearly. I know he banged his shoulder on one play in the end zone, but he's a warrior."

Said Haden: "I feel like if I'm out there and doing what I have to do under the weather and hurting, it should just make other people on the team see that and hopefully do the same."


Online: AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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