The Cleveland Browns play their final road game of the 2011 regular season on Saturday when they travel to Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium for an AFC North Division battle with the Ravens.
Baltimore is tied atop the division with Pittsburgh, but owns the tiebreaker after winning both matchups against the Steelers this season. The Ravens got their emotional and physical leader back on defense last Sunday in the person of middle linebacker Ray Lewis, but fell 34-14 at the San Diego Chargers.
The Browns are 7-18-0 all-time against the Ravens and have a 3-9-0 record in road games. The Ravens have won seven straight games in the series and three consecutive contests in Baltimore.
In the first meeting of this season, the Ravens earned a 24-10 win over the Browns in Cleveland. Baltimore running back Ray Rice ran for a career-high 204 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries and paced a ground game that gained 290 yards against the Browns.
Quarterback Joe Flacco completed just 10 of 23 attempts for 158 yards, but did not turn the ball over and was sacked just once in the win.
Baltimore’s special teams unit contributed in a major way, as Lardarius Webb returned one of
As the game unfolds, here are several things to keep an eye on:
Sheard registered the first multi-sack game of his career last Sunday with two against the Arizona Cardinals. His 7.5 sacks are tied for first in the NFL among all rookies. Tampa Bay’s Adrian Clayborn has also registered 7.5 sacks this season.
With his first sack of John Skelton last Sunday, Sheard passed Browns Legend Michael Dean Perry for second on the franchise’s rookie sack list. Former Browns and current Oakland Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley set the record with 11 sacks in the 2006 season.
Sheard, who needs 2.5 sacks to be the ninth Browns player to register double-digit sacks in a single season, is tied for third in the league with five forced fumbles. Only Detroit’s Cliff Avril and Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs have more forced fumbles (six) on the year.
While Sheard is tied for third in sacks among NFL rookies, Taylor’s 4.0 sacks rank eighth in the same category. Taylor needs one sack to tie Chip Banks (1982) for the fourth-most sacks by a Browns rookie.
Rubin registered four total tackles against the Cardinals and his 67 stops rank second among all NFL defensive linemen. Only New York’s Jason Pierre-Paul has registered more tackles (76) than Rubin. Rubin ranks first among all interior defensive linemen in tackles.
--Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. Jackson registered 13 tackles, including 12 solo stops, against the Cardinals last Sunday.
Jackson leads the team with 138 total tackles, while also having 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, three pass breakups and an interception. He has registered at least 10 tackles in seven of the Browns’ 14 games this season, including the last three. Jackson totaled 13 stops in back-to-back games at Pittsburgh (Dec. 8) and at Arizona (Dec. 18), registered 12 against Baltimore (Dec. 4), 11 each against Cincinnati (Sept. 11) and Miami (Sept. 25) and 10 against Tennessee (Oct. 2) and at San Francisco (Oct. 30).
Jackson’s 138 tackles rank second in the league through 14 games. Washington Redskins linebacker and Cleveland native London Fletcher (146) is the only defender to make more tackles than Jackson this season.
He is nine catches away from Kevin Johnson’s record of 66 receptions in the 1999 season. Little is 160 receiving yards away from passing Derrick Alexander for the third-highest total by a Browns rookie. Alexander gained 828 yards in 1994.
Dawson has kicked a single-season personal best seven field goals of 50 or more yards. His seven field goals of 50 or more yards lead the NFL and are one away from the league record for the most 50-yarders in a season. In 1995, Morten Anderson, then with Atlanta, and in 2008, Detroit’s Jason Hansen both kicked eight field goals of 50 or more yards.
Haden is tied for third -- trailing only Williams and Kansas City’s Brandon Carr -- with 35 pass breakups since the start of the 2010 season.
He ranks seventh in kickoff return yards (8,701), fifth in return touchdowns (10) and first in kickoff return touchdowns (eight).
After not having a return of 40 yards or longer in 2010, Cribbs already has four this season. All four of Cribbs’ returns of over 40 yards have led to Browns scores. His 51-yard kickoff return against Cincinnati, as well as his 52-yard kickoff and 43-yard punt return in Indianapolis led to touchdowns. Cribbs’ 63-yard kickoff return in Houston led to a field goal.
Cribbs has a history with the Ravens, having taken back a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown on November 2, 2008. He has twice returned seven kickoffs in a game against the Ravens and registered 306 combined return yards in a 33-30 overtime victory in Baltimore on November 18, 2007.
Brown has collected 22 career interceptions and has at least one takeaway in each of his ten NFL seasons. Brown is tied with Baltimore’s Ed Reed with the fourth-longest active streak of consecutive seasons with an interception. Green Bay’s Charles Woodson (14 seasons), Denver’s Champ Bailey (13), Nate Clements of San Francisco (11) and Deon Grant of the New York Giants (11) rank ahead of Brown and Reed.
--Punter Brad Maynard. Of the 69 punts Maynard has kicked this season, 27 have landed inside the 20-yard line. With one more, he would equal Dave Zastudil (28 in 2006) and Brian Hansen (28 in 1992) for third-most in team history. He is five away from tying Bryan Wagner’s record of 32 from the 1989 season.
--Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. Suggs leads the Ravens with 13 sacks this season and in addition to the hits on the quarterback, he has registered 60 total tackles, including 43 solo stops. He has had three three-sack games this year. Suggs is three sacks away from breaking Peter Boulware’s single-season mark of 15 from 2001.
With one more forced fumble, Suggs would break his single-season record of six, which he set in 2003 and equaled in both 2005 and 2011.
In his career, Suggs has registered 88 total tackles, returned one interception 42 yards for a touchdown and 13 sacks for 88.5 lost yards against the Browns.
--Joe Flacco. Flacco is one 300-yard passing game away from breaking a first-place tie between himself and Vinny Testaverde for the franchise record of eight. He could also set Baltimore’s franchise record of five 300-yard passing games in one season.
He has completed 286 of 499 attempts for 3,348 yards and 17 touchdowns against 11 interceptions this year. Flacco carries an 80.0 quarterback rating into Saturday’s game and will throw against a highly-ranked Browns pass defense.
The Browns have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 231 of 405 attempts for 2,805 yards and 14 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Cleveland has registered 29 sacks for 167 lost yards this season.
--Ray Rice. He has gained 1,086 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on 244 carries and serves as a dual threat. Rice leads the Ravens with 71 receptions and has accounted for 648 yards and two touchdowns in the passing game.
Rice needs 114 yards to become the fourth player since 1970 to record three consecutive seasons with at least 1,200 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards. Priest Holmes and Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk and Thurman Thomas are the only other players to reach that mark.
The Browns enter Saturday’s game at 4-10 following the team’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Cardinals in Glendale last week. The Ravens are 10-4 and in a first place tie in the AFC North Division after their 34-14 loss at the Chargers last Sunday.
Browns offensive linemen
Cousins was a third round choice (No. 99 overall) in 2008. He made four starts and appeared in 25 games with the Ravens.
Joshua Cribbs (Washington D.C./Dunbar High School), Joe Haden (Fort Washington/Friendly High School), Ahtyba Rubin (Fort Belvoir, Va.), defensive back
Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome was selected by the Browns with the No. 23 overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft and became a Hall of Fame inductee after playing with the team from 1978-90. Newsome still holds seven franchise records (most catches in a career, season and game, most consecutive games with a catch, yards in a career and game and most seasons with 50 or more receptions).
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (Perrysburg/Miami of Ohio), assistant special teams coach Marwan Maalouf (Strongsville/Baldwin-Wallace College) and linebackers coach Dean Pees (Dunkirk/Bowling Green State University) are Ohio natives.
Baltimore’s assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg coached the Browns’ special teams from 2001-06 and his special teams units ranked in the top ten in several categories during that time.
Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano was the Browns’ defensive backs coach from 2001-04. Under his direction, the Browns defensive backs registered 28 of the team’s NFL-best 33 interceptions in 2001.
Defensive line coach Clarence Brooks served in the same capacity with the Browns in 1999.
Maalouf worked with film breakdown and the Browns’ special teams from 2004-06.
Pees was Cribbs’ head coach at Kent State University and guided him to 13 school records. Under Pees’ direction, Cribbs was only the second player in NCAA history to rush for and also throw for 1,000 or more yards in a single season.
Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff played five games with the Browns in 2009. He connected on four extra points and went six of six on field goal tries.
Baltimore wide receiver Lee Evans (Warrensville Heights/Bedford High School), defensive back Brandon McKinney (Dayton/Chaminade-Julienne) and safety Haruki Nakamura (Elyria/Lakewood St. Edward) are Ohio natives. Nakamura played collegiately at the University of Cincinnati.
Fans can watch Saturday’s game at 1:00pm ET on local CBS affiliate WOIO-TV 19. Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Rich Gannon (color analyst) will broadcast the game.
The game is also available along the Browns Radio Network with Jim Donovan, Doug Dieken and Jamir Howerton on the call.