Dawson kicks Browns to victory in Baltimore

BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Ravens ran off the field, celebrating a comeback victory. While their fans gleefully headed toward the exits, many of the Cleveland Browns shrugged on their way toward the tunnel.

No one could have imagined Cleveland would end up winning 33-30 in overtime yesterday.

Phil Dawson’s potential game-tying 51-yard field goal hit the upright, then seemingly tapped the crossbar before bouncing back onto the field.

As the stadium emptied at the end of regulation and the Ravens pumped their fists in the air, several of the Browns insisted that Dawson’s kick hit the curved center support behind the crossbar. Many of the players gathered in the end zone, pointing at the spot where the football struck before bouncing back.

It turns out they were right. The officials discussed the situation for around five minutes before ruling the kick went beyond the crossbar and through the uprights. NFL rules dictate that the play is not reviewable by replay.

Referring to the initial call, referee Pete Morelli said, “It was a ruling by one of the officials. The other official informed me that the ball hit the back of the extension of the goal post. … We determined that was what it struck. Therefore, it made the field goal good.”

After the teams returned to the field, the Browns took the kickoff in overtime and drove 43 yards in nine plays before Dawson kicked a 33-yard field goal with 9:10 left to give Cleveland (6-4), a rare season sweep of the Ravens.

Baltimore (4-6) rallied from a 13-point deficit to take a 30-27 lead on a 47-yard field goal by Matt Stover with 26 seconds left in regulation. But Derek Anderson drove the Browns into position for Dawson’s redemptive attempt.

One week earlier, Dawson missed a 52-yarder that would have forced overtime against Pittsburgh.

Down 13 points with 13 minutes to play, the Ravens peeled off 16 straight points to get themselves in position to break a three-game losing streak.

They celebrated all right, but their jubilation turned out to be premature.

Operating against the league’s 32nd-ranked defense, Kyle Boller led the Ravens on four scoring drives in the fourth quarter.

But Anderson got the ball last, and he burned his former team by getting Dawson in position for the game-tying and game-winning kicks.

Starting in place of an injured and ineffective Steve McNair, Boller was sacked six times and committed three turnovers.

But he went 22-for-41 for 279 yards, passing Vinny Testaverde as the Ravens’ career leader in passing yardage.