Browns' Henry has Grbac's number -- 3

Rookie cornerback nabs all but 1 of 4 interceptions of struggling Ravens QB

November 19, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The Ravens won't see the Cleveland Browns again this season unless it is in the playoffs, which means they'll get a much-needed break from Anthony Henry.

Henry, a first-year defensive back for Cleveland, tormented the Ravens by intercepting three Elvis Grbac passes and playing a significant role in the Browns' 27-17 victory at PSINet Stadium yesterday.

Henry, who had four interceptions through Cleveland's first eight games, leads all NFL rookies with seven and accounts for four of Grbac's 13 interceptions.

Henry matched the franchise's single-game record for interceptions a second time, an accomplishment he wanted to share with his defensive teammates.

"It's a blessing to be able to go out there and make plays, but I've got to give it up to the defense and the line," he said. "They got a lot of pressure on the quarterback and frustrated him. That gave me the opportunity to jump in front of the ball."

Yesterday, the Browns intercepted Grbac four times, tying him for the Ravens record set by Vinny Testaverde against Cincinnati in 1996.

One of Grbac's mistakes was throwing one right at defensive back Devin Bush, who returned the ball 43 yards for a touchdown with 8:09 left in the second quarter.

Defensive end Courtney Brown also forced a Grbac fumble and recovered the ball as the Ravens were marching into Cleveland territory late in the third quarter.

But it was Henry's performance that proved the most fateful. His first theft of a Grbac pass intended for Ravens wide receiver Travis Taylor early in the second quarter led to Ben Gay's rushing touchdown and a 10-0 Cleveland lead.

Henry's second interception stopped another Ravens drive with less than a minute left in the quarter and Cleveland maintaining a 20-7 advantage. On third-and-10 from the Browns' 25, Grbac threw behind Taylor, and Henry gobbled up the ball to help Cleveland to a 13-point halftime lead.

Henry's final interception may have pained the Ravens even more. On third-and-two from the Browns' 4, Grbac dropped back three steps and lobbed a fade pass to wide receiver Qadry Ismail in the back left corner of the end zone.

The play didn't surprise Henry.

"Once he committed to the fade, I had to hurry up and get my head around because I knew the ball was in the air," Henry said. "By me being inside him, I had to jump, and I saw the ball and I got the pick."

Linebacker Dwayne Rudd marveled at that play.

"That fade route, that's mano-y-mano," Rudd said. "Elvis, he throws that ball great. He's been throwing great all year. But [Henry] made a great turn and got the interception."

Henry is part of a Cleveland defense that is becoming one of the sturdiest in the league. The Browns lead the NFL in interceptions with 20, enjoy a plus-12 turnover ratio that is among the top five , and have 26 sacks.

Defensive back Percy Ellsworth said converting the turnovers into points has been the key to Cleveland's success.

"That seems to be our M.O. right now," he said. "We seem to be able to get turnovers, and our offense seems to be able to turn those into points. Not only are we doing that, but we're also shutting teams down."

Part of that has to do with Henry, a 25-year-old from the University of South Florida. But he's playing beyond his years, says Cleveland coach Butch Davis.

"From the moment he walked into minicamp, you would've thought he had been in the league for five years," Davis said of the fourth-round draft pick. "He's poised, he's confident. He plays the fundamentals, he doesn't get into a panic situation. That kid's got unbelievable instincts around the football."

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