Haden:?Ravens have changed
CLEVELAND – Sometimes the futility the Browns have suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers overshadows another sore spot.
The Baltimore Ravens (aka as the relocated Browns) have owned the Browns since the rivalry began in 1999. Including a 14-6 win earlier this season, the Ravens control the series, 22-7.
The last time the Browns won (33-30 in overtime in 2007), they needed the help of a referee after the final play of regulation time. The ref overruled the call of a missed field goal by Phil Dawson when replay showed that the ball hit the stanchion that holds up the crossbar and uprights before bouncing back onto the field.
If the 3-5 Browns are to end a three-game losing streak and crawl back into contention in the AFC North Division, they’ll need a win over the Ravens today at First Energy Stadium in a 4:25 p.m. start.
A win would end an 11-game winning streak in the rivalry for the 3-4 Ravens, who also are in need of a win after losing two straight.
There have been signs this year that these aren’t the dominant Ravens that won the Super Bowl last season.
“As time goes by, teams change,” Browns cornerback Joe Haden said. “The Ravens aren’t the Ravens of old. They’re still a pretty good team; a division opponent. At the same time our team is a different squad.
“We still haven’t gotten over the hump. If our defense comes out and everybody plays gap control and does his job like we did in the second half against the Chiefs … Just don’t try to do too much.”
Getting a win would be a great way for the Browns to enter their bye week. It would also give them two wins over division foes – they beat the Cincinnati Bengals five weeks ago.
The Browns have talked for many years about shedding the image of being the division’s weak sister. They have never finished above .500 in division games since their return to the NFL in 1999. They were 3-3 three times – 2001, ’02 and ’07.
“As I’ve said before, every week is a great opportunity, and they all count the same,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “This is a division game, which magnifies the importance of it. We’ll be ready for it, and we’re excited for it.
“Again, I feel like we’re progressing. We’ve gotten better as the season has gone on. This is a great team that we’re playing, and it will be a great test and challenge for us.”
Both teams have the added incentive of knowing that the division-leading Bengals lost to the Miami Dolphins last Thursday. The Bengals are now 6-3.
“We don’t really look around at what’s going on around us,” Chudzinski said. “We’re very focused on ourselves and what we do. We’re a lot different. I think we’re a lot better team now. I think we have a lot better idea from a scheme standpoint and guys understand their roles.”
The mystery today will surround Ravens running back Ray Rice, who’s been limited to 242 rushing yards on 86 carries. He missed one game after suffering a leg injury against the Browns.
“He’s the same dangerous threat that he always is coming out of the backfield and running the ball,” Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. “I believe that coach (John) Harbaugh has stated that they need to run the ball better. If you do that, you win the games usually because if you get your runner 20-plus carries a game, usually you’re winning and controlling the clocks.”
The Browns also could use help from their struggling ground game. They’re averaging just 82.6 yards a game.