Game Preview: Browns-Ravens

Posted Nov 3, 2012

The Cleveland Browns finish the first half of their season schedule with Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

When the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens finish their regular-season series within the AFC North Division on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, the teams will have a different look than they did in the 23-16 Ravens win at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 27.

While the Ravens proceed without middle linebacker Ray Lewis (torn triceps muscle) and defensive back Lardarius Webb (knee), the Browns have defensive back Joe Haden in the starting lineup for this contest after the third-year cornerback missed the first meeting while serving a league-mandated four-game suspension.

“Ray’s been doing it for so long,” Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “Emotionally, vocally, he’s the leader of that defense. He kind of gets them lined up. The guy’s unbelievable and they’ve got to be missing that, as far as getting guys lined up and the leadership. Webb is a heck of a player. He was playing at a very, very high level and it’s an unfortunate deal. You never want to see that happen to a guy. He was really, really good last time we played them.”

Haden is looking forward to competing against Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who is 9-0 against the Browns. In those previous nine meetings, Flacco completed 151 of 244 attempts for 1,884 yards and 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

This season, Flacco has completed 150 of 252 attempts for 1,837 yards and nine touchdowns against six interceptions. He has been sacked 18 times for 110 lost yards, but still carries an 84.0 quarterback rating.

“He has a big, big arm and being able to throw the ball deep to Torrey Smith and Boldin being the receiver he can depend on,” Haden said. “At the end of the day, what makes Flacco even better is that no matter what happens, he could just hand the ball off to Ray Rice. If it’s not going (well), just hand it off to him, throw a screen to him to get back in rhythm. That helps a whole lot.”

Veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin has a team-best 31 catches for 453 yards and one touchdown. He averages 14.6 yards per reception. Smith, a second-year wideout, has been on the receiving end of 25 passes for 435 yards and a team-leading four touchdowns.

Along with Haden and Sheldon Brown, second-year Brown Buster Skrine will compete at cornerback. Skrine, who was named the fourth captain for the game, has registered 45 total tackles, 42 solo stops and defended eight passes.

Skrine’s production and determination have left an impression on Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron.

“I think he’s gotten better every snap,” Jauron said. “He’s a guy that I believe learns from his snaps. As his career moves along, I think he’ll be a player that has years of experience as opposed to one year of experience five times. I think Buster will be a guy that has five years of experience when he’s in the sixth year of his career. I think he’s just going to get better and better.”

Offensively, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 25 of 52 attempts for 320 yards with an interception in the loss at Baltimore. Ravens defensive back Cary Williams returned Weeden’s lone interception 63 yards for a touchdown.

Weeden was sacked once for a six-yard loss in the first Ravens game, but did not compete against Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs in September. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon in the offseason and was out of the lineup until a 43-13 loss at the Houston Texans on Oct. 21. Suggs registered one sack for an eight-yard loss in the setback.

In 18 games against the Browns, Suggs has registered 92 total tackles, 60 solo stops and returned his lone interception for a 42-yard touchdown. He has 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles against the Browns.

“You have to know where he’s at, at all times,” Weeden said. “He can do so many things. He can drop a little bit, but he’s paid to pass the rusher. He’s paid to get after the quarterback and he’s a freak. He’s been a great player for a long time. He adds leadership. With Ray going out, it’s a big boost for them.”

Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress expects Suggs to get more work as the season continues.

“It looked to me like they were going to get Suggs started there,” Childress said. “He did not play every snap of the game; he played about 20 it seemed like. I think he’s playing himself back into shape, getting into football shape. I think the two weeks has probably helped him.

“He looks like he probably hadn’t played football in awhile, although he’s good enough to have sacked the quarterback here against the Texans, and play decently. I just expect him to kind of continue to ramp up and continue to roll as he plays more football.”

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