BEREA: Less than 24 hours after the Browns and Baltimore Ravens traded blows in prime time at M&T Bank Stadium, the two sides continued to exchange verbal jabs that likely won’t be forgotten when they meet again Nov. 4 in Cleveland.
Special-teams ace Ray Ventrone accused the Ravens (3-1) of playing dirty in their 23-16 win over the visiting Browns (0-4).
But Ventrone wasn’t referring to Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe’s crushing blow to the helmet of Josh Cribbs during a punt return in the first quarter. He actually called it “a clean hit.”
Instead, he took exception to something else.
“They were playing dirty on offense,” Ventrone said Friday. “Watch the film, man. There was some dirty stuff going on.”
Ventrone volunteered his opinion but declined to reveal details.
“There was just stuff that was happening after the play, during the play,” said Ventrone, who served as a captain Thursday and played four snaps at safety and 26 on special teams. “There was some unnecessary stuff that was happening to our defensive backs most specifically.”
Strong safety T.J. Ward injured his right thumb during the game, coach Pat Shurmur said. Ward left the stadium with a cast on his right hand. Free safeties Usama Young and Tashaun Gipson suffered knee injuries.
But Ventrone said the “dirty stuff” was not to blame.
“No one was hurt by any of the stuff,” Ventrone said. “Thank God. But I think there were some cheap shots for sure.”
Ventrone has been with the Browns since 2009, so he’s accustomed to facing the AFC North rival Ravens twice a year.
When asked if the dirty play was as prevalent in the past, Ventrone said, “I don’t think as much as it was this game. Again, I don’t want to get into specifics just ’cause I don’t want to be the guy to stir the pot. But I’m just saying I think they were doing a lot of extracurricular stuff.”
After the game, Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger called Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas a flopper.
On fourth-and-10 from the Ravens’ 33-yard line, rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden’s Hail Mary pass intended for tight end Jordan Cameron fell incomplete with two seconds left in the fourth quarter, but the Browns were granted a first down and an extra shot at the end zone because Kruger drew an unnecessary roughness penalty for pushing Thomas after the play. Thomas fell to the ground, and Kruger thought it was all an act.
“I was just getting held pretty bad,” Kruger told the Baltimore Sun. “I threw my hands at him to get him off me and he flopped pretty bad. Unfortunately, they called it. I wish I was that strong. I would be doing that every play. Yeah, he just flopped pretty bad.”
Unfortunately for the Browns, they failed to capitalize on Kruger’s penalty. Weeden was hit as he threw a pass intended for wide receiver Greg Little, and it sailed long and out of the back of the end zone with no time left.
Cribbs suffered a concussion as a result of Ellerbe’s hit and traveled back to Cleveland with the team early Friday morning, Shurmur said.
“Josh is doing well today, much better than you might expect,” Shurmur said. “I talked to him at length on the plane last night, and he’s doing better than you might expect.”
Because the Browns played Thursday and are off this weekend, Cribbs will have some extra time to recover before they visit the New York Giants (2-1) Oct. 7.
“I talked to [Cribbs],” Ventrone said. “He’s doing pretty good.”
Shurmur said “we might have to do more evaluation” on Ward’s thumb. When asked if Ward could play with the injury, Shurmur said, “Sure. Ray Ventrone is doing it.”
Ventrone played the past two games with a cast protecting his surgically repaired left hand, which he broke Sept. 9 in the season opener.
“I’m playing on special teams with it, so those are high-impact plays and there’s a lot of hitting going on,” Ventrone said. “I played the last two games with it. So I know T.J.’s a tough kid, and we’ve got a decently long layoff [until the Oct. 7 game against the New York Giants], so hopefully things will work out well and he recovers fast and it’ll be up to the doctors and trainers to decide whether he’s able to play.”
Shurmur did not provide updates when asked about Young and Gipson. Young said he doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Giants.
“I don’t know if I banged it, twisted it, whatever, just fourth quarter, late in the game everything’s tired,” Young said. “You just felt a little something there, so had to be smart.”
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for about an hour Friday in New York to discuss the New Orleans Saints’ bounty case, a league spokesman confirmed.
A three-member appeals panel lifted Fujita’s three-game suspension for his alleged role in the bounty scandal Sept. 7, but Goodell might still reissue punishments. Fujita has repeatedly denied the league’s accusations that he contributed to a pool that allegedly paid his former Saints teammates for intentionally injuring opponents.
The Browns are 0-4 for the third time since 1999 and have lost 10 games in a row dating to last season, but Shurmur tried his best Friday to exude optimism after a hard-fought loss to the Ravens.
“No gloom and doom here,” Shurmur said. “We’re fighting in this next 10-day stretch to do what we can to go to New York and beat the Giants. … That’s the little tunnel we live in, and we’re at peace with that.
“We need to play better. This is the group of guys I want to get this thing fixed with, and I told them that in the locker room last night. These are my guys and I’m glad they are.”
Elect to tie
If the Browns would have scored a touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter Thursday, Shurmur said he would have tried to send the game into overtime by summoning Phil Dawson for an extra-point kick instead of attempting to pull off an upset in regulation with a two-point conversion.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at https://ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.