The Baltimore Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night as the NFL's regular referees returned to action
Last Updated: 28/09/12 8:01am
Joe Flacco: Ravens quarterback threw and rushed for a touchdown in Thursday's win over the Browns
The Baltimore Ravens made it nine consecutive victories over the winless Cleveland Browns on Thursday following a 23-16 success.
The league received a boost as the regular referees returned to action following a damaging month-long lockout and they were given a standing ovation in Baltimore.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco rushed for a touchdown and threw for another, completing 28 of 46 passes for 356 yards, while Browns rookie Brandon Weeden finished 25 of 52 for 320 yards with one interception.
Flacco and wide receiver Torrey Smith went to work early in the second quarter, connecting on 39 and 34-yard plays before the Baltimore quarterback fired an 18-yard bullet pass down the middle to the same man for the opening touchdown.
The Raves botched the extra point but Justin Tucker's 45-yard field goal extended their advantage before Weeden pushed the Browns on a 94-yard scoring drive, ending with a Trent Richardson one-yard run to go into half-time 9-7 down.
Flacco regained the momentum early in the third quarter, finishing off an 89-yard drive by rushing into the end zone to give the Ravens a 16-7 lead.
The game was in the balance late in the third quarter following Phil Dawson's field goal, but Baltimore's Cary Williams latched onto a Weeden pass and streaked 63 yards into the Browns' end zone to give the Ravens a 23-10 advantage.
Two more Dawson field goals gave the Browns late hope but despite getting 17 yards shy of the goal line on the final drive Weeden could not find a receiver and his last pass went through the end zone as time expired.