Ravens' pass rush only lacks a nickname

OWINGS MILLS -- Virtually the lone missing aspect of the Baltimore Ravens' aggressive pass rush is its glaring lack of a nickname, catchy or otherwise. In a league once dominated by the New York Jets' "Sack Exchange" and the Pittsburgh Steelers' "Steel Curtain," the Ravens are getting the job done with a no-frills approach outside of rush end Terrell Suggs' occasional tendency to taunt or dance.

Heading into Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens (10-3) rank second in the NFL with 46 sacks and are three shy of breaking their franchise record of 49 established in 1999.
"When you've got 11 guys playing with reckless abandon, you've got a pretty dangerous defense," Suggs said. "It's hard to defend us basically."
With three games remaining in the regular season, the Ravens already have two players with 10 sacks apiece -- defensive end Trevor Pryce and outside linebacker Adalius Thomas -- with inside linebacker Bart Scott (8 ½ sacks) and Suggs (seven) within striking distance of posting 10 apiece.
"They have done a tremendous job this year," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "We had Trevor in during free agency because we were interested in him, and he looks like he's just fit right in. Adalius, he's all over the place. He makes it tough.
"Suggs coming off the edge is a force. That kind of pressure hurts an offense."
Plus, all of that penetration has been a boon to the top-ranked defense's pass coverage, which leads the league with 22 interceptions and four returned for touchdowns.
"When you see a quarterback trying to run away from Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg or Haloti Ngata, it's always exciting because you know as a secondary that the ball is not going to be as active," safety Ed Reed said. "It all works hand in hand, and that's what I always tell the guys to make sure we cover and to give the defensive line a little bit more time on the rush."
TRAINING ROOM: Wide receiver Derrick Mason (thigh, questionable) returned to practice after missing Wednesday and is expected to start.
Running back Jamal Lewis (illness) was added Thursday as probable, but is still expected to start. With Musa Smith (neck) out, Mike Anderson will act as the third-down back and Lewis' primary backup.
The Browns, who have seven starters listed as questionable or worse, made no change in quarterback Charlie Frye's status. He remains questionable and Derek Anderson is likely to start.
Meanwhile, former University of Maryland star linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was officially ruled out Thursday with a toe injury.
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: At Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, they proudly display a sign that reads, "The Loudest Stadium in the NFL."
The Ravens are banking on capitalizing on their own home-field advantage as they make a stretch run for the playoffs.
"My daughter was at the game and she gave me a big hug and said, ‘Dad, our fans are louder than those people,' and they are," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We want and need the fans on Sunday to set the tone and make it absolutely impossible to operate.
"What do you think the advantage will be on our side with Adalius Thomas, Terrell Suggs and Trevor Pryce coming off the edge when those tackles can't hear the snap count? I know they're up to it. They can have a tangible effect on what we do."
BUDDY LEE TO HONOLULU?: Gritty, unsung nose guard Kelly Gregg has never been selected to the Pro Bowl, but the stocky defender garnered a ringing endorsement from Billick. Gregg has registered 83 tackles, 2 ½ sacks, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
"The team would love it, I can't imagine a guy the team would want that for more than Kelly Gregg," Billick said. "Based on the people you talk to after we play them, it should be a guarantee. Unfortunately, we don't play everybody. He's certainly deserving."
CADENCE CALL: The Miami Dolphins' recent controversy over using television tapes to become familiar with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's cadence has been blown out of proportion, according to Billick.
The league office affirmed that it's not against the rules to use video besides soundless coaches' tape to gain a competitive advantage, and it has long been a widespread practice.
"I can't even get my own players to know what the calls are," Billick said. "You think I'm worried about the opposing team knowing what the calls are. That's been going on forever. It's much ado about nothing."
QUICK HITS: Lewis has rushed for 1,415 yards, including an NFL single-game record 295 yards in 2003, against Cleveland, for his most against any team with an average of 128.6 yards per contest. … The Browns haven't won in Baltimore since 2002 and haven't scored more than 17 points in their seven road games against the Ravens. … Cleveland has the 29th-ranked offense and 30th-ranked defense. … Kicker Matt Stover drew praise from Billick for his crisp tackle on Chiefs return specialist Dante Hall at the Kansas City 49-yard line. "That was pretty good, physical," Billick said. "He didn't breathe for about a minute-and-half when he came to the sidelines, but it was great to see him stick it in there."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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