Time: 1:00 pm, Sunday, September 27, 2009
Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
Network, Announcers- CBS: Gus Johson and Steve Tasker
Line: Ravens by thirteen-and-a-half
Team W/L Records: Cleveland is 0-2; Baltimore is 2-0.
Coaches: Eric Mangini 23-27 overall, 0-2 with the Browns; John Harbaugh is 13-5 in his second season with the Ravens.
Last Week for the Browns: Looked absolutely pathetic in losing 27-6 to a decidedly unheralded Broncos team.
Last Season for the Ravens: Overcame 436 passing yards from Phillip Rivers to stymie the Chargers, 31-26. Ray Lewis made the play of the game late in the fourth quarter when he guessed the San Diego snap count perfectly and blew through to hammer Darren Sproles in the backfield on 4th-and-2 from the Baltimore 15.
All-Time Series: Ravens lead, 13-7.
Last Meeting- November 2, 2008: This game really started the downhill slide for the 2008 Browns. Going into their second meeting with the Ravens, Cleveland was 3-4, winners of three out of four, and looked to be pulling out of an early-season nosedive. The Browns jumped out to a 27-13 third-quarter lead and had Baltimore in a 3rd-and-16 situation. But the Ravens converted the third down, drove to a touchdown, and in a stunning reversal of fortune, scored the final 24 points to win, 37-27. The Browns never seemed to recover.
Out or Questionable for Baltimore: S Edward Reed (neck), TE L.J. Smith (hamstring) and LB Jarret Johnson (shoulder) are questionable.
Out or Questionable for Cleveland: RB Jamal Lewis (hamstring), G Floyd Womack (ankle) and G Rex Hadnot (knee) are doubtful; LB David Bowens (knee), TD Shaun Rogers (foot) and K Phil Dawson (right calf) are questionable.
What to watch for the Ravens: Baltimore is currently fourth in the NFL in rushing offense at a lusty 164 yards per game. Cleveland is currently 31st in the NFL in rushing defense, giving up 205 yards per game, and last week were gashed for 181 yards by a Broncos team that, when last checked, don't have Terrell Davis and Howard Griffith in the backfield anymore. I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that the Ravens will run the ball effectively against Cleveland's defense on Sunday. I also predict that Detroit's economy will continue to suck and it'll get cold around here in January.
What to watch for the Browns: At what point will this team quit in the football game on Sunday? They quit in each of the first two weeks. You could see it; they were down on the scoreboard, realized they probably weren't going to win, and just kind of checked out. Actually, giving up on games- on entire seasons, in fact- has been a hallmark of the post-1999 Browns. Not only is this team short on talent, it's short on will. They're mentally soft, infected with the losing culture. In Cleveland, "Sixty minutes of football" isn't a truism. It's a hollow joke. Rarely does this team play sixty minutes. They play forty-eight, or fifty, or sometimes fewer- and then they fall over with their legs in the air.
I've been watching a lot of old Youtube clips of the old Browns, and the difference between those teams and this newest edition, not only in talent but in attitude, is night-and-day. The mid-to-late ‘80s teams had a swagger, a confidence that was real and visible in the body language of the players. They never thought they were out of a game, never thought they were the inferior team on the field- even when they were. They had the air of winners. The 2009 Browns have the air of losers. I really believe they thought they were screwed last week when Denver took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. There is no wherewithal, no never-say-day with this club. They always seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it does it is check-out time.
That attitude of hopelessness and doom has to be fumigated from this organization. Maybe Eric Mangini is the guy to do it, I don't know. It could be years before this team acquires not just the players, but the mentality to go out and play sixty minutes of competitive football every Sunday. Right now, they don't have either.
Good Past Win over the Ravens- December 22, 2002: Tim Couch led a clutch 92-yard drive that resulted in the game-winning touchdown pass to Mark Campbell as the Browns kept alive their playoff hopes and destroyed those of the Ravens with a 14-13 victory in Baltimore. For Couch, the victory must have been twice as sweet: these same Ravens had concussed him earlier in the season during a nationally televised Sunday Night game, leading to an ugly post-game interview in which a woozy, weepy Couch blasted Browns fans for cheering his injury.
Bad Past Loss to the Ravens- September 26, 1999: Despite eight penalties and three interceptions thrown by Stoney Case, the Ravens controlled their first-ever meeting with the Browns, out-gaining the expansion team 334-189 and cruising to a deceptively close 17-10 victory. Tim Couch threw for just 123 yards on 13-of-32 passing, getting nearly half of his yardage total on a 61-yard pass to Terry Kirby, while Case- the backup quarterback on the Odessa Permian team profiled by Buzz Bissinger in "Friday Night Lights"- ran for both Baltimore touchdowns.
Next Week for Both Teams: Denver goes to Oakland; Cleveland goes to Baltimore.
Trivia: Sunday's game takes place ten years and one day since the first meeting between the two teams.