Ravens get a break after tight win over Browns
And on the 19th day, the Baltimore Ravens rested.
Baltimore has already played on Monday night, Sunday night and Thursday night. The Ravens endured four games in 18 days, the last three of which were decided in the final minute.
So after holding on to beat winless Cleveland 23-16 Thursday night, the Ravens (3-1) were given until Monday to recover from a difficult stretch that required at least one veteran player to do a bit of homework to keep up the pace.
Safety Ed Reed made two tackles and knocked down three passes against the Browns after having only three days to rebound from Sunday night's 31-30 win over New England.
''Ed was bumped up. It was nothing major, but he was bumped up,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''He was in the training room, he was doing treatment on his own at home, taking the equipment home and treating himself. He was basically treating himself 24/7. I just have some admiration for the man.''
Reed considers his home therapy to be nothing more than part of the job.
''It's how you approach it, and it's how you take care of yourself,'' he said. ''I do a great job teaming up with my doctor, trying to recover. I had a sprained knee last week, and I made it back doing constant treatment. They make it tough on you. It's how you invest though. You can either buy fancy cars or take care of your body.''
If Reed was asked to give his review of Thursday night games, he'd give it two thumbs down.
''With this league changing, and the people upstairs making decisions to adapt to this economy, we're the ones who are in jeopardy as far as injuries and stuff like that,'' he said. ''That's why you have to take care of yourself and do the things that are going to help you rejuvenate and recover. I know a lot of guys out there were fighting fatigue at the end of the game.''
The Ravens came in as 13-point favorites over the Browns, but Baltimore was pressed the entire 60 minutes before securing its ninth straight win over Cleveland. Browns rookie Brandon Weeden threw two passes into the end zone in the closing seconds, and after the second one soared out of play, the Ravens could finally exhale.
''Definitely too close for comfort,'' Reed said. ''But a win is a win.''
On a night that marked the return of the regular NFL officials, the Ravens were penalized 11 times for 100 yards. The most glaring miscue was a personal foul call on linebacker Paul Kruger, who shoved Cleveland's Joe Thomas in the final seconds following a fourth-down incompletion, providing the Browns one more shot at the end zone.
Baltimore also allowed a rookie quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards, but that was offset by Cary Williams' 63-yard interception return for a score.
No matter. The Ravens are atop the AFC North - the lone blemish on their record a 24-23 loss to Philadelphia - and now they can enjoy a weekend of relaxation before beginning preparations for an Oct. 8 game in Kansas City.
''It's big. I wish we were sitting here at 4-0, but you can't look in the past,'' quarterback Joe Flacco said. ''To finish the first quarter of the year 3-1, you give yourself a great chance to go on to the next quarter and the rest of the season and still be where you want to be in your division, in your conference. It's a big deal.''
Running back Ray Rice, who ran for 49 yards and had eight catches for 47 yards, intends to get plenty of rest in the days ahead.
''I'm tired, man. I can't wait to have this weekend off,'' he said. ''This win wasn't one of our prettier ones, but it's a division win and we're alone in the top of our division.''
Best of all, there's only one more night game left and no more matchups on Monday or Thursday.
''We'll be looking forward to a normal seven-day schedule,'' Harbaugh said, ''and we've got some 1 o'clock games coming up.''
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