Both the Ravens and Browns are tied for second place in the AFC North Division, 1 1/2 games behind the Pittsburgh Steelers. So the loser of this contest will be eliminated from playoff contention.
However, whoever wins this contest could also be eliminated from the divisional race if the Steelers win at Tampa Bay on Monday night. Should the Ravens win and Steelers lose, that would set up a showdown for the divisional title next Sunday in Pittsburgh.
“We definitely have to take care of Sunday, but once we do, every eye in the Ravens organization will be on on TV (Monday),” Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker Peter Boulware said. “We’ve got to take care of the Browns first.”
Jamal Lewis carried 26 times while Ray Lewis had an interception, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble as the Ravens forced five turnovers. But the Ravens will not have Ray Lewis for this game since he is out for the season with a dislocated shoulder, an injury he originally suffered in the first meeting.
Despite the big night by both Jamal Lewis and Ray Lewis, the Ravens nearly watched the Browns rally from a 23-0 deficit after three quarters behind backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb, who replaced the injured Tim Couch (concussion).
Holcomb passed for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and led the Browns to the Baltimore 17 with under 20 seconds remaining. But on second down, Holcomb’s pass into the end zone deflected off the hands of cornerback Chris McAlister into the arms of rookie safety Ed Reed.
A game coming down to the wire is nothing new for the Browns, who have had 10 of their 14 contests this season decided by seven points or less.
Last Sunday, it was no different as the Browns squandered a 16-0 lead in a disappointing 28-23 loss to Indianapolis.
Cleveland drove to the Indianapolis 5 in the final minute, but its hopes ended when Couch threw behind Andre Davis in the end zone on 4th-and-goal from the 5 with 32 seconds remaining.
“Everybody kind of counted the Ravens out before the season started,” said Baltimore linebacker Cornell Brown. “Now we have a great opportunity to make the playoffs.”
Baltimore leads the series, 5-2.
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