Ravens feeling need to defend their honor

Defense eyes rebound after loss to Packers

October 18, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | By Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens say the image of Brett Favre does not haunt them, but they still need to rid themselves of some anger.

Having been thoroughly scorched by the Green Bay quarterback, the Ravens' defense has vowed to restore its old fearsome reputation against its old identity, the Cleveland Browns.

Browns quarterback Tim Couch, prepare to meet a motivated Ravens defense.

"I'm betting they're going to show up Sunday with a little extra bounce in their step," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "The defense is very mindful of what they could have done better. I'll be very, very surprised if they don't come out very focused, very obsessed with re-establishing themselves."

Focused on reclaiming the NFL's top defensive ranking.

Obsessed with recapturing that aura of invincibility.

Yet despite surrendering their most points (31) in 23 games and slipping to the No. 2 overall defense, the Ravens haven't lost their attitude.

"You ain't humbling this defense," defensive tackle Tony Siragusa said. "We went out and Brett Favre had a great game. We're going to be back.

"It's not a one-game season. We might even lose another one down the road. Who knows? But we're still going to get up the next day, get a little more teed off and come back at you and try to rip your throat out."

Enter the Browns (3-2) and their offense that ranks 28th out of 31 teams. That level of production doesn't bode well in this 2-year-old rivalry dominated by the Ravens' defense.

In the four meetings with Cleveland, the Ravens (3-2) have allowed only three touchdowns and a stingy average of 172 yards of total offense.

In their last game against the Browns, the Ravens gave up five first downs. In their last visit to Cleveland, they posted a shutout.

The Browns have since switched coaches - replacing Chris Palmer with Butch Davis - but have kept the same weapons on offense. Couch remains their raw franchise player, and receiver Kevin Johnson is the only legitimate playmaker.

"It's not about us stopping them," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "It's about them stopping us."

Green Bay revealed the blueprint in beating the Ravens' defense, using a spread, aggressive offense to attack downfield and neutralize Lewis. The NFL's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Lewis was reduced to a mere bystander with just two solo tackles

But the Ravens aren't worried that the Packers found a crack for others to expose since teams need a Favre-caliber quarterback to execute that game plan effectively.

"They can think they saw something. But at the same time, they still got to play us," Lewis said. "But whatever they think they saw, let them try."

In fact, the Browns tried that same game plan last year and flopped.

Cleveland enjoyed initial success with the spread attack, racing 86 yards to score a touchdown on the opening series. But the Ravens' defense clamped down after that and limited the Browns to 26 yards the rest of the game.

"Tim Couch is an excellent quarterback and he's going to have every opportunity to show if he can make those same kind of plays that a Brett Favre did," Billick said. "You're talking about a unique breed of cat [in Favre]. Taking nothing away from Tim Couch, [Jacksonville's] Mark Brunell and [Pittsburgh's] Kordell Stewart - all those guys that we're going to play over the next little bit - but they have a little ways to go before they push themselves into Brett Favre's level."

But the effort against Green Bay put the Ravens' cornerbacks on notice.

Chris McAlister was beaten deep twice - on a fly pattern for 47 yards and a skinny post for 37 yards - and was flagged for a 27-yard pass interference penalty on another long throw. Duane Starks couldn't recover from a push in allowing a touchdown at the end of the first half and was called for interference in the end zone that set up another touchdown.

"We realize that there are some things that we could have done better," Starks said. "We could have done them at a higher level. If you don't take advantage of all of your opportunities, you're cheating yourself. That's one thing that we do not want to do.

"I want to take my anger out on each remaining game, not just the next. We're going to get right back on top."

So while Favre inflicted the embarrassment, others may have to suffer the consequences.

"There's something special about our defense," Lewis said. "Every dog has its day and the Packers had their day. There won't be too many more."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Cleveland Browns

Site: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Ravens by 7 1/2

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