<
>

Lewis goes over 200 yards again

12/21/2003

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Just 48 yards shy of making history, Jamal Lewis was finally brought down -- by his own coach.

The Cleveland Browns certainly didn't lay a hand on him.

Baltimore's bruising back closed in on the elusive 2,000-yard
club and the Ravens zeroed in on the AFC playoffs by dismantling
Cleveland 35-0 Sunday.

Question on the Ravens: How good is Jamal Lewis that he can run over one team for 500 yards in a season?
Lewis is a great running back and definitely one of the best in the league, but this is a bad matchup for the Browns. Lewis is a big, fast running back who is extremely powerful playing against a slow, undersized defense. Lewis' success is evidence that the Browns need major changes defensively.

Question on the Browns: Any chance of Butch Davis being one of those "surprise firings" in the offseason?
I would be very surprised if Davis is fired in the offseason. He has a very good contract with the Browns, and the general manager is a big fan of his. It's early to put Davis on the coaching hot seat because he's a young coach who's still establishing himself. I'd give him another year or two before I'd think of letting him go. If anything, I can see Davis leaving the Browns on his own terms during the offseason to take a high-profile college job.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Lewis rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns -- one for 72 yards
in the third quarter -- as the Ravens (9-6) moved back into first
place in the AFC North by one game over Cincinnati (8-7).

The only one who stopped Lewis was Baltimore coach Brian
Billick, who benched him for the final 8:23. That denied him a
chance to close in on O.J. Simpson (1973), Eric Dickerson (1984),
Barry Sanders (1997) and Terrell Davis (1998) as the only backs in
NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

"We had to call you off 'em, Jamal," Ravens cornerback Corey
Fuller yelled across the locker room to Lewis.

"Yep," Lewis said. "Y'all set the horse down."

By then, Lewis had demoralized the Browns (4-11), who yielded a
single-game record 295 yards to him on Sept. 14. In two games
against Cleveland this season, Lewis had 500 yards on 52 carries
and four TDs.

Following their first game with Baltimore, some of the Browns
said Lewis' record was a fluke. "I don't know what the excuse is
now," Lewis said.

If not for Billick wanting to save Lewis' for next week, the
Browns could have gone in the record book again.

"You stop him, stop him, stop him," said Browns linebacker
Andra Davis. "Then, 80 yards."

Lewis is the first back to have two 200-yard games against one
team in the same season since Simpson, who rushed for 250 and 219
yards in '73 against New England. With one game left, he has 1,952
yards and needs 153 to Dickerson's mark of 2,105.

He will chase 2,000 and Dickerson next Sunday night when the
Ravens host Pittsburgh with a chance to get back to the postseason.
Baltimore must win because Cincinnati holds all the tiebreakers if
the team's finish with identical records.

"It's hard not to think about it," Lewis said of the rushing
mark. "But we have to worry about a win, so we can go to the
playoffs. I think it's attainable though, I know the offensive line
is going to be all geeked up. It's meant to be, it will be."

The Browns (4-11) contained Lewis for 2{ quarters.

With Baltimore leading 7-0 in the third quarter, Lewis darted
right and cut back left at the line. Earl Little made a feeble
attempt at a tackle, and Lewis outran cornerback Michael Lehan to
the end zone to make it 14-0.

"I had a shot at him, but he put a move on me," Little said.
"I have to make that tackle. He's one of the biggest, most
powerful backs in the league. Old school, like Earl Campbell."

Lewis would later pick up 45 on a similar cutback run before his
24-yard TD sprint with 11:55 left made it 21-0. A few minutes
later, Billick decided the lead was safe enough to rest Lewis.

"That was a little disappointing," said Pro Bowl tackle
Jonathan Ogden. "It would have been nice to get him 2,000 today.
But we've got next week to take care of that and get a win."

Chad Williams returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown
in the fourth period to add insult to a season of injuries and
controversies for the Browns, who have lost five straight and eight
of nine.

Tim Couch, possibly playing his final home game, went 17-of-33
for 163 yards with one interception, two fumbles and was sacked
five times.

"It's been a tough year," said Couch, who remains open to
restructuring his contract for next season to stay with Cleveland.
"We'll see if they want me here first."

Game notes
Ravens G Bennie Anderson (sprained knee) and TE John Jones
(quad) both got hurt in the first half and did not return. ... The
Browns wore a black-and-white No. 14 decal on their helmets to
honor late Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham, who passed away
earlier this week. Four of Graham's grandsons took part in the coin
toss. ... Ravens T Orlando Brown played his first game in Cleveland
since Dec. 19, 1999, when the former Browns player was accidentally
hit in the eye by a penalty flag thrown by referee Jeff Triplette.
"I went over to the spot where I got hurt at," said Brown, who
won a lawsuit against the NFL for his injury. "It rolled through
my head a couple of times. But I'm just glad I can still see." ...
Couch's first completion -- a 4-yard pass to Jamel White -- was the
1,000th of his career. ... Browns DE Gerard Warren didn't start for
the first time this season, benched for the first series by Davis
for being late to a team meeting on Saturday.