Cleveland started strong in Connor Shaw’s NFL debut Sunday, but Baltimore rallied to win the game 20-10.
Shaw finished 14-of-28 passing for 177 yards and an interception.
The Browns took a 10-3 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Ravens scored 17 in the final period. Cleveland ends the season 7-9.
Shaw launched his professional career by moving the Browns to the Baltimore 25 before fumbling a snap and losing the ball.
“Especially after the first drive I convinced myself I can play in this league,” Shaw said. “I had a lot of support and help from the guys around me. I thought I did a good job of taking command of the team and taking charge on the field. We just couldn’t get it done.”
An undrafted free agent out of South Carolina, Shaw is the third quarterback to start for the Browns this season and the 22nd for the franchise since 1999.
It’s the third straight season and fourth time in five seasons that Cleveland’s No. 3 quarterback has started the finale.
Shaw made his pro debut with quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel out with injuries. The Browns were also without suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon, and they placed cornerback Justin Gilbert on the inactive list after the rookie reportedly showed up late for a team meeting.
The Browns took a 10-3 lead in the third quarter when Shaw went 3 for 3 during an 80-yard drive. Shaw scrambled in the pocket before connecting on a 49-yard completion to rookie Taylor Gabriel, who started in place of Gordon. That was followed by a 2-yard touchdown run by Terrance West.
Shaw had seven carries for nine yards and was sacked four times.
“I knew with it being a quarterback’s first start they were going to pin their ears back and bring some heat,” he said. “I thought for the most part we handled it well.”
Baltimore (10-6) earned a wild-card berth in the AFC playoffs with the win. The Browns have lost four straight games and have dropped 13 of their past 14 against Baltimore.
Shaw went 27-5 in four years with the Gamecocks. He has spent this season on Cleveland’s practice squad and running the scout team during practice.
On Sunday, Shaw said he had a lot of support from teammates before, during and after the game.
“It means the world,” he said. “I’d go to war with those guys any day. I had a lot of fun playing with them. I just wish we could have got it done.”