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The Baltimore Ravens (9-3) snapped their habit of losing to teams with a less than .500 record with a comfortable 24-10 victory over A.F.C. North rivals, the Cleveland Browns (4-8). With many Cleveland fans still angry about the relocation of their beloved team to Baltimore during the N.F.L. expansion, this game often takes an even higher meaning for them, and they will be disheartened to have not caused an upset.
The main injury concern before the game surrounded Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, who continues to suffer from a toe injury, and although sources reported he probably could have played, the Ravens had him rest, ensuring that he is fully healed for the end of the season as well as the playoffs, which are looking more and more favorable for Baltimore.
Although the first quarter was scoreless, the visiting Ravens took the lead halfway through the second quarter with a 6-yard touchdown rush from running back Ray Rice, and Baltimore proceeded to extend the lead to 10 points with a successful field goal from Billy Cundiff.
The Browns cut the deficit back to seven points with a field goal of their own in the third quarter, but could not maintain it for long as the Ravens struck back with a one-yard touchdown from Ricky Williams, the tailback finishing off a 73-yard drive which had taken just three plays.
Baltimore really wrapped the game up when Ladarius Webb returned a punt for a 68-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, and although Cleveland managed to grab a consolation touchdown after a 22-yard pass to tight end Evan Moore, it was too little too late for the home side, who will now be resigned to finishing bottom of the A.F.C. North.
The dominant running game of the Ravens was just too much for the Browns, with Rice rushing for 204 yards on 29 carries, and Williams amassing 76 yards on 16 carries, with both backs registering a touchdown apiece.
With Lewis still out, Baltimore Head Coach John Harbaugh will also be pleased with the performances of inside linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain, who effectively shut down the running game of Peyton Hillis and Chris Ogbonnaya. They were not the only defensive highlights for the Ravens, as rookie Pernell McPhee continues to impress, sacking Colt McCoy twice during the course of the game, whilst cornerback Jimmy Smith continues to grow into his role in the Ravens defense, collecting another interception in what was a composed performance from Baltimore.