HALFTIME: Browns 24, Ravens 6

The Ravens defense has struggled to contain the Browns attack in the first half, as turnovers and big plays have led to a 24-6 Browns lead at the half.

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 9/30/07

SURFACE: Grass

TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

INTERNET: OBR Live Feed (click here)

REAL-TIME CHAT: OBR Chat Room (click here) / Watercooler Game Thread (click here)

SERIES: 17th meeting. Ravens lead series, 11-5. The Ravens have won four of the last five meetings against the Browns and are 5-3 at Cleveland. In the last meeting (December 2006), the Ravens won 27-17 as Kyle Boller threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Steve McNair. After the Browns tied the game at 17 in the third quarter, Boller connected with Demetrius Williams on a 77-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the game-winner.

PREDICTION: Ravens 19-16

KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Ravens typically run the ball well against the Browns, and now they're starting to amass playmakers (WRs Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams) who can burn defenses that over-play the ground game. That's a particular concern for the Browns, whose safeties have not provided quality help over the top. ... The Browns like QB Derek Anderson's arm and confidence, but they could do without his penchant for throwing the ball into coverage. Former Ravens RB Jamal Lewis needs to run the ball strong, but the game could come down to how many turnovers Baltimore can force Anderson into in the face of the blitz.

KEY INJURIES: Ravens: CB Samari Rolle (undisclosed illness) is out because medication is making him lethargic; WR Mark Clayton (calf) is questionable with his third injury since preseason; LB Ray Lewis (ankle) and TE Todd Heap (concussion) are expected to start; OT Jonathan Ogden (toe) will be a game-time decision. Browns: TE Kellen Winslow Jr. (partially separated shoulder) said he will play; P Dave Zastudil (pulled oblique) is expected to be replaced again by Scott Player.

FAST FACTS
: K Matt Stover is the only Raven remaining from when the franchise moved from Cleveland in 1996. ... Anderson has a 90.9 passer rating in four games against AFC North teams.

PERSONNEL NEWS:

Ravens:

--QB Steve McNair is 5-1 against the Cleveland Browns and has thrown nine career touchdowns against them.

--WR Derrick Mason has seven or more catches in all three games this year.

--S Ed Reed has five interceptions in eight career meetings with the Cleveland Browns.

--TE Todd Heap has caught at least three passes in 19 consecutive games, the longest current streak for any NFL tight end.

--LT Adam Terry is expected to make his third straight start at left tackle for injured Jonathan Ogden. He will match up against the Browns' best pass rusher, Kamerion Wimbley.

--K Matt Stover is nearly averaging three field goals per game this season and leads the Ravens with 30 points this season.

--WR Mark Clayton (calf) was limited in practice but is expected to play. He could be limited to third downs.

--WR Demetrius Williams (heel) was limited in practice but he is expected to start.

--LB Ray Lewis (ankle) has barely practiced this week but is expected to start.

Browns:

--TE Kellen Winslow was held from practice again Thursday. He is being treated for a dislocated shoulder. He insists he can play against the Ravens.

--QB Derek Anderson has been told to manage the game and take what the defense gives him rather than trying to be a hero by trying to gun a pass through four defenders. Anderson threw two interceptions last week.

--WR Tim Carter missed practice Thursday with swelling on his left knee. Travis Wilson would be the third receiver if Carter cannot play.

--P Dave Zastudil punted lightly Thursday, but Scott Player will likely punt against the Ravens. Zastudil is still working through a strained oblique.

--LDE Orpheus Roye did not practice for the second day in a row. He is feeling discomfort in his left knee. He plans on starting Sunday.


INSIDE THE CAMPS

Ravens:

Although the Ravens seem tempted to start David Pittman, they will stick with Corey Ivy as their starting cornerback.

Replacing Samari Rolle (undisclosed illness) last week, Ivy compiled five tackles, a sack and a strip and fumble recovery of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the Ravens' 26-23 victory over the Cardinals.

And he still wasn't entirely pleased.

"There were a few technical things that I've got to get corrected," said Ivy, who filled in for an ailing Samari Rolle. "It just goes with getting more experience out there and playing with the first unit. If the opportunity presents itself, I can go out there and improve on the performance that I did last week."

The Ravens will try to get Pittman more involved. A third-round pick from a year ago, Pittman has more upside than Ivy but doesn't have the experience. Pittman started in the preseason with mixed results.

That means Ivy will start back to back games for the first time since October 2005. Rolle, who has been battling a lack of energy caused by the medication he is taking, has been ruled out for Sunday.

While both Ryan and coach Brian Billick insisted that players like David Pittman and Ronnie Prude could also get extended playing time against the Browns, Billick sounded impressed with what he saw from Ivy.

"Corey's played very, very tough against two very, very good receivers (in the Cardinals' Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald)," Billick said. "And the competitive toughness that you knew he would bring to the field is the thing that jumped out at you."

Ivy's ferociousness and determination despite a 5-foot-9, 188-pound frame has made him a favorite in the team's locker room, where he is sometimes compared to a pit bull.

Ivy frequently delivered bone-jarring hits to his own teammates during training camp, and he's not afraid to tangle with bigger receivers.

"I compete in whatever I do -- whether that's against an opponent or with my teammates or in pickup basketball," he said. "That was just instilled in me from when I was a young kid and not wanting to lose and not wanting to come up on the short end of the stick. If you compete, good things will happen eventually."

It's unknown when Rolle will be able to return to the lineup.

Both Rolle and coach Brian Billick said the problem is not the illness that sidelined Rolle last Thursday and Friday, but the medication administered for the illness.

"I'm off," Rolle said. "I can't play. As far as being straight and balanced and coordinated, I'm not."

Said Billick: "It's evidently something that he is going to have to monitor for a while. I hesitate to make comparisons because everybody will go, 'Oh my God, you mean he has (that?)' No. But it takes medication, and you have to have the right balance. That's the best I can offer you."


Browns:

Three games into the season, there are more questions about why the Browns offense starts slowly than specific questions about whether Jamal Lewis is the same runner who was so dominant for the Ravens from 2000-2006.

The Browns fell behind the Steelers 17-0 and the Raiders 16-0 sandwiched around a 51-45 victory over the Bengals. Lewis was dominant against Cincinnati, running for 216 yards, but he had a minimal impact on the other two games because when the Browns fall two touchdowns behind they throw the run out the window.

"When we get down, my game kind of rolls out," Lewis said. "It's not easy but it's what we have to resort to. We have the personnel, the quarterback and receivers to go out there and make some plays just in case we fall into those positions. That's what we did (against Oakland)."

Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium the Browns face the Ravens. Lewis is going into the game with something to prove. Though his departure from Baltimore last winter was by mutual consent, Lewis is eager to prove he can still break long runs and turn a game around.

On top of the predictable revenge factor, Lewis says his experience and knowledge of the Ravens defense could give him an edge. He might not have gone head-to-head with Ray Lewis in practice since the first offense goes against the scout team, but he still knows things about Baltimore the average back might be unaware of.

"It's not just because I know the scheme, but because I know the personnel and the players," Lewis said. "I know what they do best. I know what they don't do best. I think that kind of gives me a little bit of an edge.

"They're still a hard-nosed defense. I think they're going to play me a little different than they play any other running back."

Lewis' contract with the Ravens expired after last season. The Ravens decided to go in a different direction and released Lewis before acquiring Willis McGahee in a trade with the Bills. Lewis was eager to find a new team more dedicated to the run than the Ravens were in the latter years of Lewis' career in Baltimore.

"Just look at game film (from 2000-2004), and look at what they do now," Lewis said. "They pass the football and that's what they want to do. That's why I felt like me leaving was part of this business. It was all business. They wanted to pass the ball more. It looks like they're doing that now.

"I wanted to leave the year before but things worked out and I went back. This year, I kind of knew they were going to release me and I wanted to go elsewhere. Here I am."

The Browns and Lewis were a perfect match. Browns general manager Phil Savage was with Baltimore when the Ravens drafted Lewis in 2000 and seven years later was convinced Lewis could still produce. Lewis liked the direction the Browns were headed; they signed left guard Eric Steinbach before Lewis. They signed center LeCharles Bentley last year, and even though Bentley has not played because of a devastating patellar tendon injury, Lewis understood the Browns were trying to be a running team.

Savage signed Lewis to a one-year, $3.5 million contract and then traded Reuben Droughns, the starter the last two years, to the Giants.

The Browns do not have a capable starter behind Lewis. They will have to re-sign Lewis or acquire another running back in 2008.


The OBR Top Stories