5 Keys to the Game

The Ravens will concentrate on giving Lewis the football enough for him to establish his bruising rhythm against a defense that lacks headliners or dominant front seven performers.

1. Establish Jamal Lewis.

After serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy, the Baltimore Ravens' All-Pro runner is back and the timing is almost perfect. Lewis traditionally thrives against the Cleveland Browns. He has rushed for 1,100 career yards and six touchdowns against the Browns, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Last season, he established a new league record single-game rushing mark with 295 yards. He finished with 500 yards against the Browns last season. The Browns' rushing defense has improved, though. They held Lewis to a season-low 57 yards on 20 carries in the Ravens' 20-3 season-opening loss. Plus, they are ranked 11th in rushing yards allowed (107.4) per contest and per carry (3.9). The Ravens will concentrate on giving Lewis the football enough for him to establish his bruising rhythm against a defense that lacks headliners or dominant front seven performers.

2. Throw the football downfield to Travis Taylor and Clarence Moore.

Quarterback Kyle Boller showed signs in last week's 15-10 loss to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles that he might deserve the coaching staff to consider removing his training wheels. He threw for 223 yards, more than his previous two-game total of 167 yards. Travis Taylor has caught eight passes over the last two weeks, and Boller spent the majority of the off-season developing rapport and timing with him. Meanwhile, 6-foot-6 rookie wideout Clarence Moore has an intriguing upside. He caught three passes for 82 yards last week, and has a major size advantage against shorter cornerbacks. Particularly, the Browns' 5-foot-10 Daylon McCutcheon. The Browns rank 26th against the pass, aren't fond of blitzing or gambling much in general and tend to play a lot of zone defense. Even without Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap, this could be a week where a controlled passing game could be effective.

3. Contain Jeff Garcia.

The last time these teams faced off, the Browns' elusive quarterback improvised to escape the pocket to create two big plays. It was enough to help Cleveland engineer a 20-3 upset. He's rolling out with regularity now and has ruszhed for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Dennis Northcutt is his top possession target with 25 receptions for a 9.7 average, but Andre' Davis is dangerous downfield. Davis has only caught 16 passes, but he's averaging 26 yards a catch. Expect Chris McAlister and Deion Sanders to shadow Davis continually.

4. Stop the run.

Running backs William Green and Lee Suggs have combined for 640 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The hard-running, hard-living Green seems to have overcome personal issues and is back in the Browns' good graces. Suggs is a much shiftier alternative. Cleveland has averaged 152 rushing yards over the last two games, but Baltimore allows only 100 rushing yards per contest and 3.5 per carry. Something will have to give.

5. Get B.J. Sams going.

Since scoring two touchdowns on punt returns in consecutive weeks, the explosive rookie has been limited to a total of 20 yards on four returns over the last two games with a long of 13 yards. Obviously, the league has discovered he was a threat. Now, the Ravens will have to figure out how to get him rolling again.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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