on September 28, 2012 by admin in Cleveland, Comments (0)

Browns and Ravens renew rivalry in Charm City

Fresh off a thrilling last second win over fellow AFC powerhouse New England, the Baltimore Ravens will cap off a short week on Thursday by searching for their ninth straight win over rival Cleveland.

The game will also be the first this season play with the NFL's regular officiating crews after the league and the officials' union finally reached a tentative eight-year agreement to end a lockout that began in June.

The deal came on the heels of Seattle's controversial last-second win over Green Bay on Monday night in which the replacement officials struggled badly.

It still must be ratified by the NFLRA but commissioner Roger Goodell temporarily lifted the lockout so that the officials can work Thursday night's contest.

"Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night," Goodell said. "We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement."

Playing with a heavy heart on Sunday, Torrey Smith helped Baltimore exact a bit of revenge in a rematch of the AFC Championship Game from a season ago.

Smith lost his brother in a tragic motorcycle accident earlier in the day but suited up and recorded six receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, undrafted rookie kicker Justin Tucker squeaked in a game-winning 27-yard field goal in a thrilling 31-30 win over the Patriots.

"We dedicate that victory to (Torrey's late brother) Tevin (Jones) and to the whole family," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after the game. "I just think our team fights. Our team just fights, period. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don't. Tonight, we won. I couldn't be more proud of a football team, and couldn't love a bunch of guys any more than we do right now."

Joe Flacco threw for 382 yards on 28-of-39 passing with three touchdowns and an interception against New England, while Ray Rice carried the ball 20 times for 101 yards and a score for Baltimore (2-1), which dropped the AFC Championship Game in New England when then-kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32- yard chip shot that would've forced overtime.

The game was not without controversy, however, after Tucker's game-winning kick went straight over the right upright. Replays showed the kick was in fact good but New England had a hard time accepting things and Pats head coach Bill Belichick grabbed an official and argued adamantly for a review.

Field goals unlike other scoring plays are not reviewable although it's unlikely the play would have been overturned.

The struggling Browns are the AFC's lone winless team after losing their third straight contest last Sunday in the Forest City when Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for three touchdowns as the Bills defeated Cleveland, 24-14, to earn their first road victory since Week 1 of last season.

After strong performances a week earlier against the Cincinnati Bengals, rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson regressed against Buffalo. Weeden threw for a touchdown late in the third, but his two interceptions in the fourth quarter hampered the Browns, who fell to 0-3 for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.

The Bills also effectively contained Richardson, who ran for a score, but only managed 27 yards on 12 carries. He also caught six passes for 24 yards.

"One, you have to give them a little bit of credit," said Weeden regarding the Bills' defense. "They made tackles at the line of scrimmage and were doing a good job against the run game."

Dating back to last season, Cleveland has now lost nine consecutive contests and 12 of 13 overall.

This game will mark the first time the Browns and Ravens will meet in Thursday night action. The Ravens own a commanding 19-7 lead in their all-time series with Cleveland, whose first edition of the franchise moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens prior to the 1996 season before re-entering the NFL as an expansion team in 1999.

Baltimore has recorded a home-and-home sweep of the Browns for four consecutive season and has won eight of nine over Cleveland at MT Bank Stadium.

The Browns fell 20-14 in their last visit to Charm City on Christmas Eve last year and haven't won there since a 33-30 overtime verdict in 2007, which also happens to be Cleveland's most recent triumph over the Ravens.

Article source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-tsn-abn-preview-cle-bal-20120927,0,1198132.story

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