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Improved Defense, Ray Rice are Keys to Ravens Bouncing Back Against Cleveland

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By Danny Cox

Two weeks ago, the Baltimore Ravens suffered one of their worst losses in years when the Houston Texans destroyed them 43-13. It was one of the most lopsided and embarrassing losses in the entire NFL during this season. This Sunday, the Ravens have a chance to bounce back into dominance, but they’d better not take the Cleveland Browns lightly.

Cleveland just defeated the San Diego Chargers 7-6, and have the talent to take down other teams in the league. They’ve just got to stay consistent and put it all on the line every single week.

browns Improved Defense, Ray Rice are Keys to Ravens Bouncing Back Against Cleveland

(Credit, Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Baltimore does have to do a few things though in order to get back on the winning path. The first of those things is somehow salvaging a defense that has been decimated by injuries including the losses of linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb for the season.

Lewis suffered a complete triceps tear earlier in October. Webb is dealing with a torn ACL that he suffered in the same victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers that Lewis got his injury.

The fact that the Ravens actually have a struggling defense is something that the players and fans of Baltimore aren’t used to. Since the Ravens came into existence 16 years ago, they have only failed to have a top 10 defense in four seasons – 1996-1998 and 2002.

Those four years were all losing seasons.

Back in 2011, the Ravens finished with the third best defense in the NFL. As of now, they sit 28th overall in defense and are giving up 400 yards per game. Baltimore is 30th against the run and 24th against the pass in 2012.

The bad defense is just one thing though. The Ravens have started to get a lot of flack for the lack of use of running back Ray Rice. If they look at history, Rice should get the ball as much as possible when stepping on the field against Cleveland.

In four career games against the Browns in Cleveland, Rice has averaged 134.7 yard rushing and found the end zone twice. His first game there as a rookie saw him amass 154 yards on the ground in what was just an unprecedented performance.

Rice’s last trip there saw him rack up a career-high of 204 yards on the ground. That total is the fourth most in the history of the Baltimore Ravens.

The Browns are currently sitting with the 24th-ranked run defense and Ray Rice knows it, but that isn’t the reason he feels he does so well in Cleveland.

“I love playing on grass,” Rice said. “It’s a little different surface. Obviously, when you’re cutting, you get better traction on the turf. Any running back will tell you on grass you can’t over pursue as much, because the cutting is different on that grass, and obviously, on a wet field it’s really a lot different. We just went out there and ran the ball really well last year, but that’s last year.”

Sounds good enough for me, and with his track record in Cleveland, the Ravens should really have a productive offense this Sunday. Well, that is if they actually decide to give Rice the ball and let him run with it. After receiving just nine carries against Houston, they may not realize the true weapon they actually have.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Ravens news, see CBS Sports Baltimore.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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