When you can't stop the run, run the ball on offense and win the turnover battle, you will generally lose unless some outside forces influence the outcome. Up until last night's game, the Browns weren't outstanding in any one of those areas of the game, let alone all three. Sure, they stopped
But the Browns learned last night that you have to put it all together to win consistently in this league. Conversely, in the last two weeks, the Ravens have been masters of the craft of winning with a hard nose style of football.
And when they won the Super Bowl two years ago, they used the same blue print. At the end of the day, forget all that mumbo jumbo about a team having 17 rookies on their roster. Forget the fact that the Ravens were stripped down of their depth and starters from a year ago.
The team has won the past two weeks because their running game has been as dominant as ever, including the Super Bowl run. Is there any coincidence that since Edwin Mulitalo has moved back to left guard, the Ravens have been cranking up Lewis behind the left side of the line?
Did you see the holes he was running through? As John Madden likes to say, you could take a truck and drive it through that alley. But that didn't take away from the fact that Jamal Lewis was at his best last night, displaying the full pallet as a top notch halfback in this league. If his reconstructed knee isn't 100%, it's pretty darn close to being as good as new based on last night's performance.
Lewis ran for long gains, short ones and anything in between. He ran through Browns defenders, using his classic bullish style and his 240-pound frame as a battering ram. Lewis did the same on a couple of passes, gaining yards when he should have lost a few. He ran around them too, for gains of 8-10 yards around the corner, displaying his 4.3 speed.
But what put the last nail in
There wasn't anything fancy about the offense; it was just smash mouth football at its best.
There was also nothing fancy about the Ravens' defense, which fulfilled one of the other phases in the game by stopping the Browns' rush attack cold. Between Jamel White, William Green and a couple of receiver reverses, the Browns' rush offense could only muster 64-yards on the ground at a 3.6 per yard clip. The run defense nullified the perimeter runs off tackle for the most part and forced the action back up the middle.
Of course, stopping the run makes any team one dimensional. The Browns took to the air fairly successfully (especially after Ray Lewis went down with a shoulder injury), but that didn't change the fact that their propensity for turning the ball over increased.
The Ravens defense was able to force five turnovers, including four interceptions. The secondary could have had eight interceptions, if it weren't for defensive players doing what they do best: dropping the football. However, they were very opportunistic and it paid off when the game was on the line, as Ed Reed clinched the win once he picked off quarterback Kelly Holcomb's pass in the end zone.
It was no surprise that the Ravens, who ran the ball so well, only committed one turnover the whole night.
So check the scoreboard and the tally board once more. The Ravens won the game 26-21, but in theory, they won this one 3-0. They outran the Browns, stopped them from establishing the run and took advantage of the Bro