Any rivalry that the NFL might have hoped-for when they placed the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC “North” with the Cleveland Browns in 1999 has been frustrated by the sheer inability of the Browns to actually win a game against the Ravens.
Sure, there have been occasional Cleveland wins and heated exchanges, like the recent incident where Browns DT Phil Taylor accused Ravens RB Ray Rice of spitting on him. But one can’t help but get the sense that the Ravens have simply looked down on the Browns as two easy wins each year.
Perhaps, though, Joe Haden and TJ Ward have helped kick-start things a bit with their comments to the Cleveland Plain Dealer Thursday.
“As the years go by, the teams change. The Ravens aren’t the Ravens of old,” Haden said to the Cleveland newspaper. “They’re still really good, a real talented team, a division opponent, but at the same time, our team is a whole different team. It’s a different squad. We still haven’t gotten over the hump, but there’s no reason why we can’t.”
Despite Haden’s statements about the Ravens being a “real talented team,” the only part of that quote which is going to gain traction is saying that they “aren’t the Ravens of old” — i.e. mean, nasty and defensively ferocious.
Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata may not be fond of that suggestion.
Safety TJ Ward echoed Haden, saying “This team has only been 0-1 against them, so the past is really not what we’re worried about.”
The Ravens defeated the Browns earlier in the season, 14-6, but the Browns feel more confident with a strong defensive showing against Kansas City, and a new signal-caller in veteran Jason Campbell, and the 3-4 Ravens own struggles.
Still, if the Browns plan on breaking through against the Ravens this Sunday, they might not have been helped by providing them with handy comments for their locker room bulletin board.