The Browns defense couldn't do much postgame celebrating two weeks ago when they gave Ravens QB Lamar Jackson one of the toughest games of his career.
Jackson threw four interceptions and accumulated a 46.5 passer rating, his lowest as an NFL starter. The Browns swarmed Jackson with pressure, limited his big runs and prevented deep passes with stable coverage from the secondary.
But they didn't win.
The 16-10 loss in Week 12 was one of the toughest the Browns have taken this season. A rematch, however, is only three days away, and the defense is feeling good about its approach to stopping Jackson again — and delivering a win.
"We're going to go back, look at the tape and see what we did well," S John Johnson III said. "We'll try to do that again. We'll see what we did poorly, and try not to let that happen again and just go from there."
Check out exclusive photos from the practice fields at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus of the Browns preparing for their Week 14 game against the Baltimore Ravens
The Browns defense executed at a high level during their trip to Baltimore, but they know as a divisional opponent how difficult it can be to repeat success against Jackson, the 2019 league MVP and one of the shiftiest players in the NFL. The Ravens have lost their last two games but are still at the top of the division after some impressive performances from Jackson throughout the season. The Browns need to prevent one from happening Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Jackson has struggled recently, though. He threw another interception last week against Pittsburgh and now has eight interceptions and six touchdowns in Baltimore's last four games. The Ravens offense has failed to score more than 20 points in four of their last five games.
It's not often the Browns catch Jackson and the Ravens while they're struggling a bit, so they know they must pounce in the rematch in Cleveland.
"We have to force him into situations where he has to drop back and throw the ball," Johnson said. "I wouldn't say he's (been) forcing the ball, but you want him to throw the ball into those tight windows and those situations."
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is one player who will certainly play a big role in the effort to stop Jackson. He recorded 12 tackles in the last game, and six of them were against Jackson. Four of those tackles were for a 1-yard gain or no gain at all.
Owusu-Koramoah's speed is precisely why the Browns coveted him so highly in the 2021 draft. Cleveland traded up seven spots in the second round to grab him, and his performance in the last game was perhaps the best example yet why that move was completed.
"It's just doing what the coaches ask me to do," Owusu-Koramoah said. "I just focus on what (defensive coordinator) Coach (Joe) Woods says my assignment is, and that's something I try to fulfill to the best of my ability. There's more work to be done, but we're working toward perfection, as always."
All 11 players on the field, though, are needed to stop Jackson.
That's why the Browns' game plan worked so well two weeks ago. All four of the Browns' interceptions in that game came from different players, and all of them were made possible by everyone else on defense doing their jobs.
Now, the group has had a bye week to rest and prepare again to face Jackson. They're treating the last game as a baseline for Week 14, and the goal is to be even better.