Browns give J. Lewis yards, not credit

500 against Cleveland this year are `fluke,' says defensive lineman Lang

NFL Week 16

December 22, 2003|By Tom Reed | Tom Reed,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CLEVELAND - Jamal Lewis is quickly gaining ground, not just on the Cleveland Browns, but also in the ranks of the city's deadliest opponents, like John Elway and Michael Jordan.

Lewis didn't break his NFL single-game rushing record of 295 yards - the one he established in Week 2 against the Browns - but he enjoyed another huge game at their expense in a 35-0 win yesterday.

After the Browns contained him for 2 1/2 quarters, Lewis ran wild over the final 22 minutes, scoring two touchdowns and finishing with 205 yards on 22 carries.

Lewis broke open a close game with a 72-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to make it 14-0.

"I still think [Clinton] Portis is the best back overall, he is shiftier and makes better cuts," Browns safety Earl Little said. "But the best old-school back, pound for pound, is Jamal. He is that Earl Campbell-type of back who can run you over."

Lewis, the NFL's leading rusher, has gained 500 yards and scored four touchdowns in two games against the Browns this season. He has recorded five 100-yard performances against the Browns in his four-year career.

But what credit the Browns give Lewis seems to come begrudgingly.

"Out of the 500 yards, I'd say 400 yards is on missed tackles," rookie middle linebacker Andra Davis said.

Defensive lineman Kenard Lang called Lewis' record-setting outing "a fluke" early in the week. His assessment after yesterday?

"It's still a fluke to me," Lang said. "He's a good back, don't get me wrong, but a lot of the stuff he got, we gave him."

Lang, a seven-year veteran, did call Lewis one of the top five backs he has played against.

"And I've played against some of the best - Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith in his prime," he said.

Defensive back Daylon McCutcheon shook his head while discussing Lewis. "The numbers he has put up against us are just ridiculous," he said.

Lewis managed just 41 first-half yards on 14 carries. He did not run for more than 8 yards on his first 18 attempts. But Lewis altered momentum with one cutback run, breaking several tackles and rambling 72 yards with 6:14 left in the third quarter.

He followed that with dashes of 45 and 24 yards - the second producing a touchdown that made it 21-0.

"It was our fault, it was the defense's fault," Lang said. "We didn't have guys staying in their gaps."

Defensive tackle Gerard Warren said he sensed Lewis getting frustrated in the first half. He believes sloppy tackling and poor defensive fundamentals contributed to Lewis' second-half outburst.

"You have to make tackles. I missed tackles and I'm the last line of defense," Little said. "But he is such a big, strong runner. He never stops moving those legs."

The Browns have lost five consecutive games and eight of nine to fall to 4-11. Several players ranked yesterday's defeat among the most embarrassing since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999.

"We just got our butts kicked, 35-0, by one of our archrivals," Little said. "As a Brown, this is probably our worst loss."

Running away

A look at Jamal Lewis' two games vs. Cleveland this season, which produced 500 rushing yards and two Ravens victories:

Date ....... Att .... Yds ...Avg ...Lg. ...TD ....1st half/2nd half

9-14-03... 30.... 295 ... 9.8 ...82 .....2 .....180 yds./115 yds.

12-21-03. 22.... 205 ... 9.3 ...72 .....2 .....41 yds./164 yds.

Totals ......52 ... 500 ... 9.6 ...82 .....4 ....221 yds./279 yds.

Lewis also has five of the top six rushing performances in Ravens history, including three this season:

Player .............Date ........ Opp ....Att-Yds

Lewis ........... 9-14-03 ..... Cle. ..... 30-295

Lewis ........... 10-6-02 ..... Cle. ...... 26-187

Holmes ....... 11-22-98 .... Cin. ...... 36-228

Lewis .......... 11-19-00 .... Dal. ....... 28-187

Lewis .......... 12-21-03 .... Cle. ...... 22-205

Lewis ........... 12-7-03 ..... Cin. ...... 30-180

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