A funny thing has happened in the city of Baltimore. For the first time, Ravens fans actually expect their team to make a playoff run. Led by a tenacious defense that has allowed a meager 2.1 yards per carry, virtually every football expert picks the Ravens to strangle the young Browns for another victory. What no analyst could foresee was how John "Big Dawg" Thompson and a faulty bleacher wall would combine to undermine the Ravens' athletic defense.
With five minutes gone in the second quarter, and the Ravens nursing a 3-0 lead, Ravens DT Tony Siragusa falls on a Marc Edwards fumble at the Raven's ten yard line. Celebrating with middle linebacker Ray Lewis, Siragusa runs to the Dawg Pound wall and taunts the fans. Enraged, Browns fans hurl insults and beer cups at the players, pushing forward until the interior wall buckles under the weight. Out spills John "Big Dawg" Thompson, all 450 trademarked pounds of him. Lewis and Siragusa collapse like a cheap card table beneath the massive superfan, and it takes half a dozen men nearly 15 minutes to lift the unconscious Big Dawg off the Ravens defenders. Both players are lost for the game.
When play resumes, the tables turn quickly. Courtney Brown swipes the ball out of the grasp of a scrambling Tony Banks and Ravens running back Jamal Lewis scoops up the loose ball, foolishly running backward to avoid onrushing defenders. The rookie gets planted like a fence post in the end zone by Jamir Miller, giving the Browns a quick safety. The very next play, Dennis Northcutt returns a short Kyle Richardson punt for a touchdown. And just like that, the Browns lead 9 to 3.
With the Browns defense limiting Lewis to just five yards on 10 carries in the first half, Billick is forced to go with the pass. Three incompletions later, the Browns offense goes to work. Northcutt has a big day, zipping past the wizened Rod Woodson for a pair of long receptions from Tim Couch and setting up a spirited seven yard TD run by Errict Rhett. Rhett can be heard taunting the entire Ravens defense as he rumbles his way into the end zone for a 16-3 lead just before the half.
Billick is unhappy, but Raven's VP David Modell is out of hand. Art is on the speakerphone, screaming at his son from a secure bunker in Baltimore. Never one to enjoy pressure, David begins snorting lines of coke off the glass table in the luxury box. At least his drug-addled antics allow him to miss another woeful spectacle, as Chris Palmer calls an onsides kick that Darrin Chiaverini scoops up and returns to the Ravens 30 yard line. One play later, the Browns score again on a Couch-to-Johnson classic.
Just like that, Brian Billick reverts to his old Blame Game tactics. Trailing by 20 points at the half, Billick fires the special teams coach, suspends the defensive backfield coach, and chews into the players. He blames the boom mike guy for a missed extra point, the Goodyear Blimp for a dropped Raghib Ismail pass, and the Cleveland field crew for a twisted ankle suffered by QB Tony Banks. In fact, Billick blames everyone and everything except himself. Billick talks so much that he actually loses his voice, causing his team to miss a critical third-and-long substitution that could have kept the game within 100 points. Billick blames coal-fired power plants for the lost voice, by the way.
Upstairs, David Modell is reenacting a scene from Altered States, howling like an animal and bashing his frame against the walls. He finally crashes right out of the high luxury box and falls more than a hundred feet onto unsuspecting Ravens fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo. Sportscasters everywhere rejoice when Ayanbedjo is lost for the season. Sam Gash is much easier to pronounce.
Final score? Browns 177, Ravens 3
And that's the way I see it. GMD