By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass in his home debut for Cleveland, leading the Browns to an ugly 13-3 win on Saturday over the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens, who need injured star quarterback Lamar Jackson to get back quickly.
Watson wasn’t spectacular, but he did enough in his third game since being reinstated from an NFL suspension to help the Browns (6-8) keep their miniscule playoff hopes alive.
Watson, who was banned for 11 games for alleged sexual misconduct, connected with Donovan Peoples-Jones on a 3-yard TD pass in the third quarter to put the Browns up 13-3 — the biggest deficit the Ravens (9-5) have faced all season.
Watson finished 18 of 28 for 161 yards, and added 22 on the ground.
Browns rookie Cade York made two field goals — and missed two tries — but outkicked Ravens All-Pro Justin Tucker, the league’s most accurate kicker, who missed a 48-yarder and had another attempt blocked.
Jackson missed his second straight game with a knee injury, and the Ravens aren’t the same without his dynamic playmaking ability.
Tyler Huntley, who was only cleared from concussion protocol a few days ago, started again for Jackson but couldn’t get Baltimore going. He went 17 of 30 for 138 yards.
Baltimore’s J.K. Dobbins ran for 125 yards, and the Ravens rolled up 198 yards rushing. But forced to throw while playing from behind in the fourth, Huntley couldn’t come up with a big play.
Huntley also made a critical mistake in the third quarter, when he was intercepted at the Cleveland 9 by Denzel Ward with the Ravens down 6-3.
Watson then directed a 91-yard scoring drive, delivering his TD strike to Peoples-Jones with 2:10 left.
Without Jackson, the Ravens have been relying on their solid running game, strong defense and Tucker’s trusted leg to keep them in the playoff hunt.
The formula worked the previous two weeks, and despite some offensive issues, Baltimore was positioned to tie it at 6 before halftime when Tucker hooked a 48-yard attempt on the final play of the second quarter.
The Ravens have been encouraged by Jackson’s progress and are hoping he’ll return to practice this week and possibly play on Saturday.
Jackson was injured in the first quarter of Baltimore’s 10-9 win over Denver on Dec. 4.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski and some of his staff ran the stadium’s steps before the game to raise awareness and funds for the The Coach Knapp Memorial Fund, established for longtime NFL assistant Greg Knapp.
The 58-year-old Knapp was killed in 2021 by a distracted driver while cycling.
ODDS AND ENDS
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett was credited with 1 1/2 sacks, giving him 13 1/2 this season. … Ravens coach John Harbaugh dropped to 24-6 vs. the Browns.
Ravens: Massive DT Calais Campbell hurt his knee in the fourth quarter. He was able to walk off under his own power. … CB Marcus Peters went out in the third quarter with a calf injury and didn’t return.
Browns: DE Jadeveon Clowney sustained a head injury late in the second quarter. … S John Johnson III (thigh) went out in the third quarter, shortly after forcing and recovering a fumble.
Ravens: Host Atlanta on Dec. 24.
Browns: Host New Orleans on Dec. 24 in their home finale.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.