The Baltimore Ravens held onto first place in the AFC North Division, defeating the Cleveland Browns, 24-10, on Dec. 4 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Ravens improved to 9-3 overall and 4-0 AFC North. Their overall record ties the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Baltimore owns the tie-breaker after beating Pittsburgh twice earlier in the season.

Outstanding Player(s) of the Game:
The Ravens put on their best rushing performance of the season, led by fourth-year running back Ray Rice, who rushed for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Veteran reserve running back Ricky Williams added 76 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. With Baltimore running so successfully, they didn’t need to pass the ball much, giving quarterback Joe Flacco light duty throughout most of the game.

Unsung Hero of the Game:
Veteran Pro Bowl center Matt Birk was sidelined with an injury midway through the game, but the Ravens still managed to block well, thanks in part to backup center Andre Gurode. Gurode went to the Pro Bowl in each of the last five seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, but was let go during the offseason, giving Baltimore a chance to add a quality offensive lineman. The acquisition paid off Sunday as he helped pave huge running lanes for the Ravens’ running backs.

More Game Notes:
Baltimore’s defense played a third straight game without their field general, Ray Lewis, but once again made him proud. The Ravens gave up a meaningless touchdown late in the fourth quarter after dominating Cleveland defensively for most of the game.

Linebackers Jameel McClain and Danelle Ellerbe recorded five tackles each to lead Baltimore’s defense, which held Cleveland to 223 total offensive yards.

Third-year cornerback Lardarious Webb had a complete game, playing well in pass coverage as well as on special teams. Webb ran a punt back 68 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens return to Baltimore to face the Indianapolis Colts (0-12 overall) on Dec. 11 at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore is 6-0 at home this season.


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor