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Players focus on improving

Posted Nov 4, 2012

Following Sunday’s 25-15 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Cleveland Browns turned their focus to improving over the bye week and preparing for their next game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cleveland Browns finished the first half of their 2012 schedule with Sunday’s 25-15 loss to the AFC North Division-leading Baltimore Ravens (6-2) at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The Browns (2-7) will have their bye week this Sunday before heading to Dallas for an inter-conference showdown at Cowboys Stadium on Nov. 18. Between now and then, veteran middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson wants the team to focus on one thing.

“I told guys, ‘Just think about football. Think about how we want this season to end. We have a chance. We’re right in ballgames. Let’s stop talking about it and actually do it,’” Jackson said.

Rookie running back Trent Richardson took Jackson’s message to heart.

“It hurts a lot to lose this game,” Richardson said. “It was close and it’s the last time we get to play Baltimore this year, unless we get to see them in the playoffs. This game here meant a lot and to come from a 14-0, we were fighting. One thing I can say is we’re getting better and trying to finish strong.

“We’ve got to go in tomorrow and game plan for Dallas. I know that’s two weeks from now, but we’ve got a week off. We’ve got to have it in our heads while we’re at home or wherever we’re at, that we’ve got Dallas to play for and we’ve got to go out there and do everything we can. We’ve got to make sure we get better every day while we’re sitting at home, resting our bodies.”

The Ravens got a quick start to Sunday’s game and were up 14-0 after their first two possessions.

Running back Ray Rice opened the scoring with an eight-yard touchdown run that gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead over the Browns at the 8:32 mark of the first quarter.

Rice served as a catalyst on the 10-play, 70-yard drive that took 5:25 off the first-quarter clock. He ran for 32 yards and the touchdown on six carries, while quarterback Joe Flacco completed all four of his pass attempts for 38 yards. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught three of Flacco’s passes and gained 30 yards.

Baltimore running back Bernard Pierce rushed for a 12-yard touchdown and gave the Ravens a 14-0 lead over the Browns with one second remaining in the first quarter. Pierce took a pitch out from Flacco on third-and-one, turned the corner around left tackle and tiptoed his way up the sideline before crossing the goal line.

Baltimore held the ball for 12:17 in the first quarter.

“We were in this game to the end,” kicker Phil Dawson said. “We took a couple quick blows at the beginning of the game, got a 14-point deficit and like I’ve been telling guys in this room, the old Browns would’ve folded up shop and gone home, but this group dug in, fought our way back into the game and gave ourselves a chance at the end. That’s some of the good stuff I’m seeing.

“We lost a game today against a division opponent at home, a game that we could’ve won, but give Baltimore credit. They put a drive together at the end of the game to go ahead and we’ll just have to regroup, hopefully, get refreshed over the bye week, and go down to Texas and win a game.”

Quarterback Brandon Weeden, who completed 20 of 37 attempts for 176 yards in the loss said the team still has “plenty to play for.”

“You never know what’s going to happen within the division,” said Weeden. “You never know what’s going to happen across the league. If we take care of business, if we get better, if we find a way to win games late, you never know. That’s the approach we have to take.”

RETURNING TO THE TOP

Browns kick returner Joshua Cribbs entered Sunday needing 23 kickoff-return yards to pass former Washington Redskins returner Brian Mitchell to become the NFL’s all-time leader for the most kickoff-return yards with one team. He needed 73 yards to join Mitchell as the only players in NFL history to have at least 800 kickoff-return yards in eight straight seasons.

Cribbs registered 74 kickoff-return yards against the Ravens and now has 9,638 during his eight-year career with the Browns.

Cribbs is now 151 yards away from passing Glyn Milburn for fifth on the NFL’s all-time kickoff-return yards list. He is also 164 yards away from passing Browns Legend Eric Metcalf for the most punt-return yards in team history (2,149).

PLACING THE BALL

Browns punter Reggie Hodges kicked the ball away four times and averaged 42.5 yards per punt on Sunday. After the Ravens’ returns were factored in, Hodges had a net average of 40.8 yards per punt. It is the fourth time this season that Hodges has had a net average of at least 40.0 yards per punt.

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