Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) passes during the first...

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Cleveland. Credit: AP/Ron Schwane

CLEVELAND — Baltimore was missing two receivers and its starting left tackle, later joined on the sideline by the starting right tackle. Its thin secondary was further depleted when two more defensive backs got hurt.

The Ravens were undermanned against the NFL's top-ranked defense.

None of that mattered to Lamar Jackson.

Baltimore's electrifying quarterback ran for two touchdowns, threw for two more and made Cleveland's rebuilt defense look broken while leading the Ravens to a 28-3 win on Sunday over the Browns, who played without injured quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Jackson scored untouched on runs of 10 yards and 2 yards, and he threaded a 7-yard scoring pass to tight end Mark Andrews with 11 seconds left before halftime as the Ravens (3-1) opened a 21-3 lead.

Jackson put an exclamation point on the blowout in the fourth quarter with an 18-yard TD pass to Andrews, sending the few diehard Cleveland fans who hung around hoping for a comeback toward the exits.

“Lamar is who he is because of who he is. He’s going to bring his full skillset to every game,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who notched his 150th career win. “That's what he's going to do. That's what he does. That's why he is who he is.”

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scores a 2-yard rushing...

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scores a 2-yard rushing touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Cleveland. Credit: AP/Sue Ogrocki

Baltimore took sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

The Browns (2-2) didn't have Watson because of a right shoulder injury sustained last week and had to start rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The fifth-round pick from UCLA looked overmatched in his NFL debut.

Cleveland's offense, already missing star running back Nick Chubb for the season with a knee injury, gained just 166 yards — 53 on a meaningless final drive. Thompson-Robinson threw three interceptions and was sacked four times.

“This organization, this team, everybody from the draft process on up has put their faith into me, especially being the No. 2,” said Thompson-Robinson. “Today is not what the picture of a No. 2 quarterback should look like.”

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) looks to pass during...

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Cleveland. Credit: AP/Sue Ogrocki

The Ravens had plenty of their own injuries and were missing six regulars, including receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman.

However, they still had Jackson — and he was more than enough.

Cleveland's defense came in ranked No. 1 in virtually every major statistical category, but Jackson brought the Browns back to Earth.

He finished 15 of 19 for 187 yards passing, added 27 yards rushing and made several spectacular plays, none bigger than his first TD throw to Andrews — over several defenders — in the back corner of the end zone.

“With Lamar, when that first play breaks down, then you have that second play he makes," said Justice Hill, who had 33 yards on three carries. "It’s just a special thing to watch.”

Watson injured his throwing shoulder last week on a running play in a win over Tennessee. It was the lone blemish in his best performance since arriving last year in a trade and serving an 11-game suspension.

Watson was limited in practice all week and was listed as questionable. After he threw a handful of passes three hours before kickoff, the Browns decided to start Thompson-Robinson.

“He wanted to go badly, but he just did not feel that he could go,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said of Watson. ”He pushed himself. He tried. He did everything in his power to get ready, but just did not feel comfortable earlier this morning and didn’t feel like we could put him out there.”

Jackson's first scoring run came after the Ravens picked off Cleveland's young QB, who was shaky throughout the game.

On third down, Thompson-Robinson's intended pass for Amari Cooper was deflected by cornerback Arthur Maulet and corralled by Brandon Stephens, who returned his first career interception 52 yards to Cleveland's 10.

Jackson took the next snap from the shotgun, ran left and cut back to score untouched and put the Ravens up 7-0.

GARRETT HURT

Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett had his left foot in a protective boot following the game after getting hurt in the third quarter. He also was taken for X-rays.

Garrett, who was credited with one sack, got his foot awkwardly bent under him when he was trying to bring down Jackson.

NJOKU PLAYS

Cleveland tight end David Njoku played despite suffering burns on his face and arm while lighting a fire pit at home on Friday. Njoku caught a team-high six passes for 46 yards.

He arrived at the stadium wearing a mask to cover his injuries.

“He was adamant that he was going to make it,” Stefanski said. "That’s a scary thing that happened to him. So No. 1, very happy that he’s OK, and then he gutted through it.”

INJURIES

Ravens: Daryl Worley, who started for injured safety Marcus Williams, went out with a shoulder injury in the first half. ... OT Morgan Moses (shoulder) got hurt in the second quarter. ... CBs Jalyn Armour-Davis (hamstring) and Maulet (head) left the game.

Browns: C Ethan Pocic (chest) went out in the second quarter. He started the third before leaving with a knee injury. Pocic left the stadium with his knee in an immobilizing brace and with crutches. Nick Harris, who was supposed to be Cleveland's starter last season before getting hurt in the exhibition opener, replaced him. ... DE Alex Wright (chest) was also hurt.

UP NEXT

Ravens: At Pittsburgh next Sunday.

Browns: After a bye, host San Francisco on Oct. 15.

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