Scouting Report

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Ravens Vs. Browns

Cleveland Browns Stadium, 1 P.m., Ch. 13

September 12, 2004|By Jamison Hensley

Ravens run offense vs. Browns run defense:

Jamal Lewis has owned the Browns, averaging 191.4 yards in the past five meetings. Last season, the NFL rushing champion gained 333 of his 500 yards against Cleveland on six carries. But the loss of left tackle Jonathan Ogden, who is unlikely to play with a sprained left knee, could limit the Ravens' outside runs. The Browns ranked 23rd against the run last season, surrendering 200 yards three times (Lewis twice and San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson) and 100 yards in three other games. They changed only one player on their defense (weak-side linebacker Warrick Holdman).

EDGE: RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Browns pass defense:

The Ravens didn't have to rely on their passing game last year against Cleveland because their running attack was so dominant. Ravens quarterbacks only needed to throw 36 times in the two meetings, completing 18 passes for 178 yards. But the Browns recorded six sacks on those limited drop-backs, and protection has been a concern for the Ravens all preseason. If Ogden can't go, Ethan Brooks will start at left tackle, where he'll be matched up against Cleveland's best pass rusher, Kenard Lang (eight sacks last year). Look for the Ravens to run plays designed to move Kyle Boller out of the pocket. Ravens receiver Kevin Johnson, who led the Browns in receiving from 1999 to 2002, returns to Cleveland for the first time since being waived by the Browns last year.

EDGE: EVEN

Browns run offense vs. Ravens run defense:

The Browns have redesigned the offense, bringing in a legitimate fullback, Terrelle Smith, and adopting a run-first philosophy. But their top running back, Lee Suggs, is doubtful, leaving disappointing first-round pick William Green as the featured back. Cleveland has never had success on the ground against the Ravens and averaged 3.1 yards a carry against them last season. The Ravens' defense returns intact, although ends Tony Weaver (ankle) and Marques Douglas (elbow) are coming off injuries that sidelined them at the end of the preseason. No running back gained more than 72 yards against the Ravens over the last six games in 2003.

EDGE: RAVENS

Browns pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense:

The Ravens' secondary is a dominant one, allowing just one quarterback to throw for more than 275 yards in a 20-game span. It has shown some susceptibility to the deep pass in the preseason but ranked second in the league last year in fewest big plays allowed. Cleveland upgraded its passing game this offseason with former Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia and first-round pick Kellen Winslow. The rookie tight end presents the biggest mismatch problem, but the Ravens have handled top-tier tight ends in the past. With Deion Sanders playing in his first game in three years, Cleveland might try to test him with receiver Quincy Morgan.

EDGE: RAVENS

Special teams:

Both teams have reliable coverage teams and kickers. The Ravens' Matt Stover connected on 87 percent of his field-goal attempts last year, and the Browns' Phil Dawson hit 86 percent. As for the punters, the Ravens' Dave Zastudil is at his best pinning teams inside the 20-yard line, and Cleveland's Derrick Frost - a one-time training camp cut by the Ravens - is playing in his first NFL game. A rookie will figure into the Ravens' return game with undrafted newcomer B.J. Sams, but don't be surprised if Sanders fields one.

EDGE: EVEN

Intangibles:

The Ravens are 2-3 in openers under coach Brian Billick and haven't begun a season with a road win since 2000. The Browns, however, were one of the NFL's worst home teams last season, going 2-6 at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The atmospheres in the locker rooms switched last week, with the Browns providing all the trash talk and the Ravens remaining eerily quiet.

EDGE: EVEN

Prediction:

Don't expect another rout of the Browns if Ogden doesn't play. Unlike any other player on offense, the Ravens don't have an answer to replacing the NFL's best lineman, which means Lewis will have a tougher day than usual against the Browns and the offense will need to be jump-started by solid field position. But can the Browns answer this: How are they going to reach the end zone against this defense?

RAVENS, 16-6

RAVENS DATA

2003 statistical leaders

Passing

Att Com Pct Yds TD Int Lg Rat.

Boller 224 116 51.8 1260 7 9 73t 62.4

Wright 178 94 52.8 1199 9 8 64 72.3

Team 415 217 52.3 2517 16 19 73t 64.7

Opp. 531 296 55.7 3158 19 24 82t 66.4

Rushing

Att Yds Avg Lg TD

J. Lewis 387 2066 5.3 82t 14

C. Taylor 63 276 4.4 32 2

Ricard 19 79 4.2 30 0

Wright 29 68 2.3 17 0

Boller 30 62 2.1 15 0

Team 553 2669 4.8 82t 18

Opp. 448 1536 3.4 36 6

Receiving

No. Yds Avg Lg TD

Heap 57 693 12.2 33t 3

T. Taylor 39 632 16.2 73t 3

Robinson 31 451 14.5 50t 6

J. Lewis 26 205 7.9 26 0

C. Taylor 20 132 6.6 23 0

T. Jones 19 159 8.4 25 3

Team 217 2517 11.6 73t 16

Opp. 296 3158 10.7 82t 19

Interceptions

No. Yds Avg Lg TD

Reed 7 132 18.9 54t 1

R. Lewis 6 99 16.5 37 1

McAlister 3 93 31.0 83t 1

Baxter 3 41 13.7 34 0

Demps 2 57 28.5 54 0

Team 24 511 21.3 83t 4

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