CLEVELAND: For the second game this season, the physicality between the Browns and Baltimore Ravens didn’t stop when the whistle blew.
After the Browns lost in Baltimore in Week 4, special teams ace Ray Ventrone accused the Ravens’ offense of dirty play. After the Browns’ 25-15 loss Sunday, several Browns again called out the Ravens for cheap shots.
This time frustrations boiled over after Browns safety T.J. Ward was flagged for roughing the passer during the Ravens’ game-winning drive for hitting quarterback Joe Flacco above the shoulder pads.
“I want to say the right things,” Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “Those guys, they get away with a lot of things over there. We don’t retaliate at all, we play within the lines, but we seem to get the flags called on us.
“It’s the way this league is, man, you’ve got to gain respect. Right now we don’t have respect from officials, from teams, anything, until we start playing a little bit more physical and also winning those close ballgames.”
When asked if what the Ravens were doing post-whistle was “just football,” Ward said “No.”
“That’s not just football,” he said. “They’re a nasty team. That’s just how they play, and I think they get away with a lot on that side of the ball.”
Wide receiver Greg Little said replays of Ward’s hit “definitely showed shoulder-to-shoulder contact.” Jackson didn’t think the flag should have been thrown, either.
“I was right there,” he said. “I didn’t think it warranted a personal foul. I didn’t think there was anything malicious about it. Flacco released the ball, he got hit, it’s football. It’s a physical ballgame. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”
Ward said he was trying to strip the ball and didn’t hit Flacco’s head or neck.
“My chest hit him in the shoulder. My arm hit him in the back shoulder … I pulled up. I don’t see what was wrong with the hit,” Ward said.
Warranted or not, that play deflated a Browns defense that had forced six consecutive three-and-outs and held the Ravens to just four second-half yards entering that drive. Without that penalty, the Ravens would have been facing a third-and-8 at their 42-yard line. The flag brought the ball to the Browns’ 42, Ray Rice rattled off a couple of 10-yard rushes, and Flacco then hit Torrey Smith for the deciding touchdown.
Ward said the film will back up the Browns’ claims.
“We just let them know from the get-go it’s not going to be happening, you’re not going to cheap shot us,” he said. “You’ll sit back and watch the film and you’ll see how they play.”
Browns running back Trent Richardson, who suffered a rib injury in Week 2, learned what he must do in the chippy rivalry.
“I was on the ground and about to get up and someone just came and dove on my ribs. I’ve got to protect myself better,” Richardson said.
In his corner
Richardson got encouragement from the Ravens’ Ray Rice, one of the running backs he admires most, when they talked and exchanged jerseys after the game.
“Ray told me ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. You can only get better. You’re doing what you can. Don’t get down on yourself at all. If you keep going, you’re going to be in the Pro Bowl,’ ” Richardson said.
Rushing for 105 yards on a career-high 25 carries and catching a career-best six passes for 31 yards, Richardson is amassing the resume for a Pro Bowl run.
He joined Fred Taylor (Sept. 20, 1998) of the Jacksonville Jaguars as the only rookies to run for 100 yards against the Ravens. Richardson’s total was the third-most by a Brown against the Ravens, trailing only Peyton Hillis, who recorded 144 yards in 2010 and 112 yards in 2011.
Picking up 122 yards last week against the San Diego Chargers, Richardson joined Earnest Byner (1984) and hall of famer Bobby Mitchell (1958) as the only Browns rookies to register back-to-back 100-yard games. Richardson has cracked 100 three times this season, tying a Browns rookie record held by William Green (2002) and Kevin Mack (1985), a first-year player from the USFL.
“I wasn’t paying attention to that,” Richardson said. “To crack 100 yards, that’s one thing we try to do every game as an offensive unit.”
Richardson said he apologized to the offensive line.
“They left me a lot of big holes out there. I left some yards out there,” he said. “I apologized to my offensive line for not getting us in the end zone.”
Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor played his first game since tearing his left pectoral muscle in May. He started in place of Ahtyba Rubin, who was out with an injured calf. Taylor got into a post-play scuffle with Ravens guard Marshal Yanda early in the first quarter, Yanda losing his helmet, which may have been months of pent-up frustration.
“It’s been a long time,” he said. “I was ready to get out there. … I feel good, you know? I mean I was just playing my heart out. I went out there and did what I had to do.”
TD that wasn’t
Trailing 14-12 in the fourth quarter, Brandon Weeden hit Josh Gordon on a slant route that appeared to be an 18-yard touchdown and relief for a struggling offense, but the play was nullified by an illegal formation penalty. Chris Ogbonnaya, normally a running back, lined up on the outside and was too close to the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped.
Ogbonnaya thought he was aligned correctly and said he tried to check with the referees, something receivers do before each play, but he couldn’t get confirmation in time.
“What I was trying to do was point to the ref to make sure I wasn’t illegally aligned, and as I was pointing to him, the ball was snapped and they threw the flag,” he said. “I needed to take more of a step back, from my understanding. That’s what was communicated to me when I came off the field.
“I thought I had given him [the referee] enough time to do so. … I thought it was clear enough.”
Ventrone fan club
It’s not that often that a group of football fans from Pittsburgh are caught tailgating in Cleveland while sporting bright orange sweatshirts and cheering on the Browns.
But that’s what a large group of friends and family members of Ventrone were doing before the game. Wearing sweatshirts with Ventrone’s name and number 41 on the back and “Happy 30th Birthday Bub” on the front, the group (including Ventrone’s father-in-law) set up in a Port Authority lot.
According to STATS LLC, the Browns were tied with the Detroit Lions for the most team drops in the NFL with 22 entering the week. The Browns had three more against the Ravens.
Alex Smith and Richardson each dropped short passes, and Josh Gordon wasted a deep throw by Weeden early in the second quarter.
The defense dropped two interceptions. Cornerback Joe Haden got his hands on a pass in the third quarter but couldn’t haul it in. In the fourth quarter, safety Usama Young let an easy interception go through his hands around midfield that he could have returned for a touchdown.
Receiver Mohamed Massaquoi returned after missing the past five games with a hamstring injury. But he limped off with about four minutes remaining. … Bryan Wiedmeier, the Browns’ executive vice president of business operations, talked to owner Jimmy Haslam on the sideline before the game. Wiedmeier had a brain tumor removed Oct. 26. … Josh Cribbs became the NFL’s all-time kickoff return yards leader with one team. He now has 9,638 and passed Brian Mitchell. … Cary Williams’ interception of Weeden snapped a consecutive streak of 209 offensive plays without a turnover for the Browns, spanning 15 quarters in four games. … Jabaal Sheard had a season-high eight tackles and registered a half-sack. … It was the first time this season that the Browns failed to force a turnover. … New Browns CEO Joe Banner also attended and was on the field before kickoff. … Mike Holmgren, the team’s outgoing president, attended the game. … Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle), running back Brandon Jackson, free safety Tashaun Gipson (knee), fullback Owen Marecic, Rubin (calf), guard Jarrod Shaw (illness) and wide receiver Josh Cooper (thigh) were inactive.
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