As the Browns look to reverse painful trends, the Ravens want to embrace their history in Cleveland where running back Ray Rice has run all over their defense in recent years. A year ago, the Pro Bowl back rushed for a career-high 204 yards in a steady rain for a 24-10 win. Two years ago, Rice ran for 92 yards in a 10-point victory.
Many are calling for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to create more touches for Rice in an offense struggling to find success on the road, so a Cleveland defense ranked 24th against the run should be the perfect signal for how to attack on Sunday. But Rice knows it will take an improved collective effort to right the offense against a team thirsting to beat them.
“We just went out there and ran the ball really well last year, but that’s last year,” said Rice, who was held to 49 yards on 18 carries against the Browns in Baltimore earlier this season. “Their defense is playing at a high level, and we’re going to have a challenge ahead of us. It’s no surprise that they just beat a great team in the San Diego Chargers. They are coming off a high, and we have to go in there, and like coach ‘Harbs’ said, ‘It’s a must-win situation for us.’”
To label a game against the lowly Browns as “must-win” shows just how desperate the Ravens are to not only bounce back from one of the worst losses in the history of the franchise but to also quiet talk about their inability to get the job done on the road. A win over Cleveland won’t cure all, but it will cause the Ravens to feel better about themselves as they sit in first place in the AFC North with a 5-2 mark.
The Ravens have won 14 straight games immediately following a loss and haven’t dropped consecutive games since a three-game slide in October 2009. It may not feel like as sure of a thing as a meeting with the Browns usually does, but the Ravens have history on their side in trying to right themselves this weekend.
“It’s a team thing. We all just have to get back to playing Ravens-style football,” Suggs said. “Like I said, we’re not panicking, we’re not hitting the panic button, but we know we have to address it and it needs to get fixed ASAP.”