Ravens Run All Over Browns

Butch Davis selected Kelly Holcomb over Tim Couch as the Browns starting quarterback because of, he says, "a gut feeling". David Carducci reports from Baltimore that Davis' may be feeling more than a little indigestion in wake of the Browns' performance on Sunday...

BALTIMORE - That gut feeling Butch Davis felt when he chose Kelly Holcomb as his starting quarterback might just have been a bad case of indigestion.

Even if it wasn't, another miserable performance by Holcomb and the Cleveland Browns' hapless attempts at stopping Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis had to make the coach sick to his stomach Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Behind Lewis' NFL single-game record 295 yards on the ground, the Ravens humiliated the Browns 33-13.

To make matters worse, Lewis told Browns middle linebacker Andra Davis in a phone call earlier in the week that he would to set a new rushing record if he got the ball 30 times.

"You have to give him credit," said Browns safety Earl Little. "He said it, and he backed up his words ... Right now I'm just sick. This is the worst loss I've experienced since I've been here."

That is saying something, considering Little became a Brown during the expansion season of 1999.

It really was every bit that bad, though.

The Browns opened the game with plenty of trash-talk in Lewis' direction, but as the game grew more and more embarrassing, the talk quieted down. Davis finally offered his hand to Lewis midway through the fourth quarter.

"Andra told me, ‘I can't say anything else," said Lewis. "He was congratulating me as we were playing, so he showed me much respect ... I don't think they expected a day like this. But it came."

The Browns hadn't experienced this type of day in almost 40 years. Pittsburgh's John Henry Johnson held the old rushing record against a Cleveland defense, running for 200 yards in 1964. Of course, the Browns recovered that year to win their last NFL title.

The horror show started on just the second play of the game when Lewis raced 82 yards for a touchdown.

The fourth-year back, who carried 30 times for a 9.8-yard average, added another long 63-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Strangely, even after that second touchdown, the Browns were still in the game, trailing 23-13 with 14:49 remaining in the game.

"I guess that says something," said cornerback Daylon McCutcheon. "As bad as we played, we still had a chance in the fourth quarter."

Tim Couch led the Browns to a thrilling 14-13 comeback win with a touchdown drive in the closing minutes the last time the Browns visited Baltimore. Holcomb couldn't offer the same late-game heroics.

Holcomb completed 17-of-37 passes for just 147 yards. He also tossed two interceptions, including a fitting, game-ending pick by Ravens safety Ed Reed, who raced 54 yards for a touchdown, running Holcomb over along the way.

An earlier interception by Reed actually turned out to be the Browns' best offensive play of the game. With 2:50 on the third-quarter clock, Reed made a leaping grab at the Ravens' 29 yard line on a deep throw Holcomb had intended for Dennis Northcutt.

Fortunately for the Browns, Ravens backup quarterback Chris Redman fumbled on the very next play. The recovery by defensive tackle Gerard Warren at the 22 set up the Browns only touchdown of 2003.

Five plays after the gift turnover and almost seven full quarters into the new season, Holcomb hit Kevin Johnson for a 4-yard touchdown pass that cut the Ravens' lead to 26-13 with 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Holcomb posted an unsightly quarterback rating of 43.4. Rookie quarterback Kyle Boller (7-of-17, 78 yards, 1 interception) was even worse at 31.0, and that was the only thing that kept the Browns in the game.

"They pretty much took it to us," said Holcomb. "They played well, and we didn't in any phase, and (this) is what happens when you come in and play like that."

Cleveland self-destructed defensively, allowing a whopping 343 total yards rushing. They self-destructed offensively, totaling just nine first downs and 175 net yards. They also self-destructed on special teams as the usually reliable punter Chris Gardocki shanked an ugly 10-yard punt, setting up a 56-yard field goal by Wade Richey that put the Ravens ahead 16-3 just before the half.

"Sometimes when things go wrong, they really go wrong," said Davis. "You hope when one phase of the game struggles, another phase will pick up the slack. But God forbid, when all three phases go bad, you know it's going to be a tough day."

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