Even after Baltimore had punished Brady Quinn, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis got in one more vicious hit on Cleveland’s quarterback.
Angered over Quinn’s questionable chop block on Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs following an interception, Lewis accused Quinn of a dirty play.
“Heck yeah it was a cheap shot,” Lewis snapped after Baltimore rocked Cleveland 16-0. “When you’re running down and you’re looking at the quarterback going at somebody’s knees who doesn’t even have the ball. I want to see if he gets the same fine I got or even higher. Now this man is out four or five weeks because of some baloney like that.”
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For 30 minutes, the Ravens were inefficient, unproductive and disorganized.
In 17 seconds, they changed all that.
Ray Rice scored on a 13-yard run on Baltimore’s first possession of the third quarter and safety Dawan Landry returned an interception of Quinn 48 yards for a touchdown on Cleveland’s next play as the Ravens overcame a horrendous start and routed the hapless Browns.
The game also included two plays that could force the league to hand out fines, and it ended with Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs being carried from the field on a stretcher following another nasty hit. He was taken to a hospital for tests. Cleveland coach Eric Mangini said Cribbs was transported as a precaution.
“He’s got feeling and movement in all parts of his body,” Mangini said.
The Ravens (5-4) didn’t score in the opening half, when they used up their three timeouts in the first 6:15, committed silly penalties, converted just one third down and actually made the Browns (1-8) look respectable.
“I guess I agree it wasn’t pretty,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “It was an ugly win, but that’s the way some wins are in the NFL.”
Following his second interception, Quinn dropped and rolled into Suggs’ right knee, drawing a 15-yard penalty and incensing the Ravens.
Suggs limped to the locker room. It’s not known how long he’ll be out.
“That’s an illegal blow,” Lewis said. “I don’t care how you want to look at it.”
Quinn said he didn’t hit Suggs intentionally.
“I was trying to go for the ball carrier,” he said. “Suggs came across at the last second in my vision. I would never wish that upon anyone. I was upset about it on the field. We worked out in Arizona together. I couldn’t be any more sorry about that. That was never the intent. I’m sorry to Terrell and the rest of their team.”
Despite being down by 16, the Browns, who never crossed Baltimore’s 45, were fighting for yards on the final play. Quinn threw short to Cribbs, who then lateraled to tight end Robert Royal. After he got rid of the ball, Cribbs got drilled in the chin by defensive end Dwan Edwards as the clock expired.
As Cribbs laid motionless in the middle of the field, players from both teams knelt in prayer. Royal said Cribbs was making jokes and moving his arms and legs.
Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce questioned Mangini’s motive in running a dangerous play.
“I didn’t see it, but I heard it,” he said of Edwards’ hit on Cribbs. “With five seconds left in the game, and you’re down 16-0, to throw a hook-and-lateral, what’s the point of that? I’m not trying to question their coaching, it’s none of my business. But you see what the result was.
“You do a hook-and-lateral play with a whole bunch of guys that are big and run fast, people are running around crazy and someone is going to get hurt.”
Edwards said he wasn’t trying to injure Cribbs and wasn’t looking for retribution on Quinn for his hit on Suggs.
“I was just hustling to the ball,” he said. “He had just pitched it and I reacted. It wasn’t him that hit Suggs. I consider myself a hustle player and I tried to hustle and make a play – not let them get a score.”
The first time Baltimore got the ball in the second half, Flacco connected on a 41-yard pass to Derrick Mason, who spun out of cornerback Brandon McDonald‘s tackle and raced down the sideline to the Cleveland 13. Rice took it in from there to make it 7-0.
On the next snap, Quinn, making his first start since being pulled 10 quarters into the season by Mangini, threw high and wide to Royal and the ball bounced to Landry, who scampered in untouched to make it 13-0.
The Ravens missed the extra point, but that hardly mattered against a Cleveland offense that has scored only five offensive TDs in its past 15 games.
It was Baltimore’s first shutout since Nov. 26, 2006, and it came at the perfect time for the Ravens, who had dropped four of five and were in danger of falling too far behind Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
Pryce said the Ravens adjusted to Cleveland’s no-huddle at halftime.
“You have to weather the storm when you’re playing a team like Cleveland that has nothing to lose,” Pryce said. “What they were doing was smart. They were running a no-huddle, quick substitution game plan. And that stuff messes with you badly. You waste more energy running on and off the field than you do in the game itself. That was the big thing we had to address in the second half.”
NOTES: Before the game, Browns backup QB Derek Anderson played catch – left-handed – with Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, a lefty who returned the throws right-handed. Anderson threw some impressive spirals with his opposite hand. … Browns P Dave Zastudil was inactive because of a sore knee. Reggie Hodges, signed Sunday, averaged 38.6 on nine kicks. … Ravens S Haruki Nakamura, a Cleveland native, broke his right ankle on the opening kickoff. … Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Suggs would have an MRI on Tuesday.