CLEVELAND - Jamal Lewis welcomed the opportunity to play for the first time against his former Baltimore teammates yesterday afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Lewis, who led the Ravens in rushing with 1,132 yards a year ago, had the chance to make his first on-the-field statement about how he feels about the Ravens organization not offering him a contract extension after last season.
He gained 64 yards on 23 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run, to help Cleveland defeat Baltimore 27-13 before 73,024 fans.
"It's great," said Lewis, of the win over his former team. "They let me out of there and Cleveland picked me up. [Browns general manager] Phil Savage knew me and he knows what kind of back I am."
Lewis, originally drafted by Baltimore with the fifth overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft, played his first seven seasons in the league with the Ravens. He left his mark on the organization, gaining 7,801 yards for his career in Baltimore, including a memorable 2003 campaign when he rushed for a league-leading 2,066 yards.
He rushed for a single-game NFL record 295 yards against Cleveland during that season which ranks second all time in league history to Eric Dickerson's 2,105 yards gained in 1984.
"This is really big," he said. "We have to play like this every week. We can't come out here and play this hard one week and next week let up."
Lewis, who recorded a long run of 28 yards in the first half, said playing against his old teammates drew memories of scrimmaging against Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who are known for offering their share of trash talk.
"Those guys know my strengths and my weaknesses," Lewis said. "I know their strengths and their weaknesses."
Lewis and his new teammates embraced the talk yesterday. "This win was an important win for Jamal Lewis," Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel said.
And Crennel wasn't alone in thinking the Browns wanted to win the game for their starting running back.
"We wanted to win this for Jamal Lewis and for this franchise," Browns kick-returner Josh Cribbs said. "These division games mean a lot to us, especially [playing] in front of the home crowd."
DYNAMIC DUO: Signs of Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards performing up to their expectations started to show last season.
Both have started rather quickly in the first month of the season to make for a formidable receiving duo that opponents are having to pay more attention to. They entered the game against Baltimore with each ranking among the top 15 in receiving yards for the season.
Edwards, who recorded a 78-yard touchdown reception in the first half against the Ravens, began the day ranked 19th in the league with 278 receiving yards. Winslow, who pulled in a career-best 49-yard reception to set up a Phil Dawson field goal late in the fourth quarter, ranked 12th in the league through three games with 271 receiving yards.
Edwards streaked by Ravens All-Pro cornerback Chris McAlister on a basic go route that left him wide open five yards behind his defender when the pass from Derek Anderson landed in his hands without him breaking his stride.
"It was a simple go route," Edwards said. "Chris McAlister is known to sit on some things. I gave him a quick inside move and he bit, so I exploded past him. It was something I have been studying in the offseason and I knew it was possible."
Edwards finished the day with three catches for 97 yards while Winslow came up with four catches for 96 yards.
Winslow nearly scored on his career-long reception but was tackled at the Baltimore 2 by Ravens safety Dawan Landry.
"I have got to get that one into the end zone," Winslow said.
SMITH RETURNS HOME: Former Ohio State University quarterback Troy Smith stood on the Ravens sideline not too far away from Baltimore's head coach. The Ravens rookie QB, who is third on their QB depth chart, watched most of the Browns-Ravens contest with a notepad and pencil in hand for charting the Ravens offensive plays.
The former Buckeyes leader and Cleveland native returned home for the first time as a member of the Ravens in a regular season game. He did not see any action.
THE SERIES AND ETC.: The Browns, who were swept by the Ravens last year, improved to 6-11 in the series, including a 4-5 record at Cleveland Browns Stadium. ... Anderson played the entire game without being sacked by the Ravens. It was the first time Cleveland didn't allow Baltimore to record a sack since Oct. 1, 2000. ... Leigh Bodden leads the Browns with two interceptions after intercepting a Steve McNair pass in the
Contact Donald Emmons at:
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.