2007 Rewind: Browns 27, Ravens 13

They were just 2-2 after the game, but already fans could sense that something was different. The Browns rolled over the Ravens 27-13 at home, as Cleveland Browns Stadium started to develop a home field advantage in earnest...

THE HYPE

In a family sense, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Browns running back Jamal Lewis are not related. They share no brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or cousins.

But the certainly have plenty in common on the gridiron. They both play a punishing, physical style of football. And they spent seven years as teammates.

That is, until 2007. That's when the latter signed a free agent contract and hightailed it from Baltimore to Cleveland. And on September 30, he was going to compete against his old team for the first time.

It was to be the featured mini-drama in the drama itself. And folks anticipated that when one of the premier backs of the decade collided with one of the most talented linebackers to ever a don an NFL uniform, the event might just be recorded on the Richter scale.

This was going to be fun.

"It's going to be a slugfest," Jamal Lewis promised the Chronicle-Telegram. "I don't think there's going to be a 90-yard run here, a 60-yard run there. It's going to be some 3s, some 4s, some 6s some 8s – let them turn into those big runs later in the game. You're going to have to stick your nose in there. It's going to be a physical game."

And that plays into the hands of Ray Lewis, whose jarring tackles bring back memories of some of the hardest hitters in the history of football.

"We once praised the Jack Lamberts and the Dick Butkuses, and all those guys," he told the media during the midweek conference call. "Now, in today's game, if you hit somebody too hard you'll get fined.

"That's what makes it very difficult for a person who understood old-school football. Old-school football was very simple. It was by any means necessary and that has changed now because of the economics of things. People want the high-scoring games and they want us to never touch the quarterback. There's so much that has changed to kind of soften our game instead of letting our game be what it truly is."

What it truly was for the Browns heading into Week 4 was a crossroad. Were they going to take the same old path to mediocrity or work their way onto the road of prosperity? The defense, which had yielded 35 points game as it prepared for the Ravens, needed to improve drastically for the team to take a step in the right direction.

"We stink right now," linebacker Andra Davis exclaimed to the News-Herald. "Our defense is bad. We can't do anything about the past games. We just have to go out and hope we do better this week."

And they did.


THE GAME

Back in the day Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly ran around, over and through defenders at old, creaky Municipal Stadium, the Browns boasted what was then known as "The Rubber Band Defense."

It bent, but it didn't break.

Well, the Browns defense had been bending and breaking through the first three weeks of the 2007 season. But in Week 4 against Baltimore, it only bent. Then it held.

The Ravens indeed gained 418 total yards, including 307 through the air. But they still returned home smarting, victims of a 27-13 defeat in which they didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. The Browns, who had been dominated in so many games since returning to Cleveland in 1999, actually dominated the Ravens, at least most of the way.

They bolted ahead 7-0 lead five minutes into the game on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Derek Anderson to Joe Jurevicius. They then stretched the lead to 14-0 exactly three minutes later on a 78-yard scoring strike from Anderson to blossoming Braylon Edwards, who shook Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister down the left sideline, hauled in the pass, and sprinted into the end zone.

And while it had become obvious that the emerging Anderson had developed quite a rapport with his receivers, it was becoming equally certain that the offensive line that had been rightfully maligned for years was now one of the team's biggest strengths. They allowed no sacks against the usually fearsome Baltimore pass rush and opened up enough holes to allow Jamal Lewis to rush for 64 yards.

Nearly half that total was gained on a 28-yard scamper in the first half. Lewis also scored on a 1-yard run with five minutes remaining in the third quarter that gave his team a 24-3 lead.

The large deficit forced Ravens veteran quarterback Steve McNair to fire away, and he did between the 20s with some success. He completed a career-high 34 passes in 53 attempts for 307 yards and finally hit Quinn Sypniewski for a 4-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, which fell squarely into the "too little, too late" category.

By that time, the Browns were preparing to celebrate. And they did just that in the locker room following the game.


THE AFTERMATH

The game clock had yet to tick away the last second and Edwards was already joining Browns fans in an impromptu sing-a-long.

The happy folks in the stands had broken into the Ohio State fight song, raising their arms to form the letters. So Edwards joined in. Never mind that he played college football with the hated Michigan Wolverines.

It was that kind of day.

"I was definitely doing it," he admitted to the Associated Press. "This is Ohio. This is my residence. This is where I play football. This is where I earn my paycheck. This is the city I've adopted and the one that has adopted me. I don't mind going O-H-I-O. I don't believe it just pertains to Ohio State. Cleveland is in Ohio."

And, apparently, it was also the home of a vastly improved football team. The team that had sand kicked in its face over and over by the bullies of the AFC North had now beaten both Cincinnati and Baltimore. And it sure felt good.

"Everybody said we were the same old Browns," Edwards added. "We're ahead in our division and we can build on that. We have a team. We have something going, I'm not going to lie. … If we play like this the rest of the year, who knows what can happen."

On the other side of the stadium, the Ravens were thinking the same thing about their own team. But they weren't smiling after having fallen behind 14-0 in the first quarter and never really threatening.

"Any time you give a team 14 points like we did, it's a tough mountain to climb," Ray Lewis complained to the Associated Press. "Any time you have turnovers and give them a short field the way we did, you have to ask yourself if we came to play."

Edwards certainly came to play, particularly when he toasted McAlister for the 78-yard touchdown.

"It was a simple go route," Edwards explained to the Toledo Blade. "(McAlister) is known to sit on some things. I gave him a quick inside move and he bit, so I exploded past him. It was something I had been studying in the offseason and I knew it was possible."

For the Browns, it seemed that suddenly anything was possible.



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