Pryce ahead in sack race

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Defensive end drops QB twice to move past Thomas for team lead

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Ravens 27 Browns 17

December 18, 2006|By EDWARD LEE | EDWARD LEE,SUN REPORTER

For a guy who has built his NFL career on getting to the quarterback, Trevor Pryce is good-naturedly casual about his sack total this season.

With two sacks of Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson in yesterday's 27-17 victory, the Ravens defensive end broke a tie with linebacker Adalius Thomas to become the team leader in sacks with 12. (Thomas ranks second with 10 1/2 .)

But to Pryce, the sacks mean something different.

"It's 12 more tackles," the 10-year veteran said nonchalantly. "Sacks are a byproduct of a lot of things. It's really more luck than anything else."

To prove his point, Pryce pointed to last season when he amassed four sacks in what would become his final season in a Denver Broncos uniform.

"I didn't do anything different except that I might have rushed the passer better last year," he said. "But it's a combination of a lot of things - a combination of our team being up, the crowd noise, [linebacker] Ray [Lewis] controlling the middle of the field, [safety] Ed [Reed] doing this and [cornerback] Samari [Rolle] doing that. Anytime the quarterback has to bring the ball down and bring it back up, somebody should be hitting him, and on every team, you have two or three guys who do that. On our team, we have six."

Although the Ravens have six players with at least three sacks, Pryce's value can't be understated. Once considered to have lost a step in his ability to rush the passer, Pryce, 31, has proved that his skills are as sharp as ever.

His 12 sacks are tied for the third-highest season total in franchise history. He has registered at least two sacks in three games this season, and the Ravens are 8-0 in games in which Pryce takes down the quarterback.

"We've said so many times now that Trevor's presence inside is a huge difference for us," coach Brian Billick said a few weeks ago. "When they don't pay attention, he makes them pay. If they have to pay attention to him, that opens it up on the outside."

The Ravens have been good for Pryce, too. Pryce, who was courted by Cleveland during the offseason, said he considered himself fortunate to find a team that takes time to enjoy the moment.

"We're grown men playing a child's game. So how serious can it be?" he said, adding that the atmosphere in Denver and Cleveland seemed suffocating. "Here, everything stays loose. The locker room's real loud, there's music playing and people cracking jokes before the game. That makes such a big difference to me because I'm not fighting for my life."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

J. LEWIS AGAIN SOLVES BROWNS

The Browns apparently bring out the best in Ravens running back Jamal Lewis.

Lewis earned his sixth career 100-yard rushing game against Cleveland (his first since 2003) when he rushed for 109 yards on 22 carries yesterday.

The only opponent who has been more generous is the Cincinnati Bengals, who have conceded eight 100-yard games to Lewis.

"The opportunity just presented itself," Lewis said of his success against the Browns. "We made it happen."

Lewis - whose 7-yard touchdown rumble gave the Ravens a 7-3 lead with 6:39 left in the first quarter and upped his season total to eight, the most since 2003 when he had 14 -made his best run of the season when he took off for a 52-yard gain off left guard in the second quarter.

"It's been a long time," said Lewis, whose previous longest run this season was 27 yards. "The offensive line blocked perfectly, and I just hit the hole where I was supposed to go, and it was wide open. I couldn't help but get a good run out of it.

"It felt tiresome, but it was good. It shows that we're working hard on the running game. Coach [Brian] Billick isn't afraid to call the runs that we need to and is just doing a good job of setting things up with the run and everything."

WINSLOW'S TRASH TALK

Browns tight end Kellen Winslow, who has a knack for creating controversy, was a topic of conversation in the Ravens' locker room.

Winslow, who was fined $5,000 by the NFL on Friday for an unnecessary roughness penalty he drew for a hit on Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Farrior, taunted Ravens linebacker Bart Scott during player introductions.

Scott said he was running out of the tunnel during the introductions when he spotted Winslow standing at the 40-yard line and yelling at Scott.

"He was sitting there, saying, `I don't respect you,' " Scott recalled. "I said, `Dude, what are you talking about? Go get a hobby, man.' "

Later in the fourth quarter, Scott earned a sack when he tackled Winslow for a 14-yard loss after Browns quarterback Derek Anderson lateraled the football back to Winslow.

"I was asking him to talk to me then," Scott said.

Linebacker Adalius Thomas said Winslow was trying to goad him, too.

"He always talks. That's his game," Thomas said. "He tries to get you to talk, but that's not my game. I talk with my helmet and shoulder pads, and then we can talk a little bit then. But when you're running a route and nobody's throwing you the ball, how can you talk?"

M. SMITH OUT FOR SEASON

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