The Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns will always have symbiotic ties that neither fan base is proud of and one that both would rather forget.
But that’s impossible.
Browns fans are bitter and there are probably many that believe the two World Championships that the Ravens have earned since leaving the shores of Lake Erie are deservedly theirs. But isn’t that a bit like Baltimore football fans laying claims to Peyton Manning’s accomplishments in Indianapolis?
In a way it’s tough to blame Browns fans for their saltiness. After all their town hasn’t won a championship of any meaningful kind since 1964, never watched a Super Bowl that has included their team and they haven’t won an NFL playoff game since January 1, 1995, when Joe Flacco was just 9 years old.
The Browns last playoff game was back on January 5, 2003, a 36-33 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Helping the Browns earn that season’s playoff berth was a 14-13 victory over the Ravens here in Baltimore on December 22, 2002.
You may recall that the Ravens lost several veteran players after a salary cap purge and an expansion draft during which they sacrificed Jermaine Lewis and Jamie Sharper. Yet the league’s youngest roster fought hard and remained in the playoff hunt into Week 16, which they entered with a (7-7) record, the same as the Browns.
Trailing 13-7 with just 2:08 remaining in the game, the Tim Couch-led Browns offense took the field at their own 8-yard line. Up to that point in the game the Browns had managed just 164 yards of offense and they needed a touchdown to win the game. From their perspective the 92 yards had to have appeared daunting.
But 8 plays, 92 yards and 1:40 later, aided in part by a Chris McAlister personal foul, the Browns hit pay dirt and took the lead 14-13. QB Jeff Blake and the Ravens offense took the field with just 0:24 left. Six seconds later Blake threw an interception.
Couch returned to the field, took a knee and then paraded around what was then simply called Ravens Stadium, mockingly waving bye-bye to the Ravens, their fans and their playoff hopes.
If there’s any consolation in Couch’s mockery, the 1999 No. 1 overall pick lasted only 5 seasons in the NFL, starting 59 games while compiling a 22-37 record.
The very next season the Ravens hosted the Browns during Week 2 on the heels of an ugly loss in Pittsburgh where Kyle Boller’s professional debut was anything but memorable. His very first drive ended with an interception after going 1 of 4 for 12 yards on the drive.
The Ravens lost 34-15 to a Steelers team that would finish (6-10).
Heading into Week 2 Jamal Lewis was determined. He challenged the Browns defense and threatened to break the single-game rushing record (278 yards) held by Corey Dillon. Jamal delivered, churning up 295 yards on 30 carries and 2 scores. A ticky-tacky block in the back against WR Marcus Robinson negated a third touchdown and another 15 rushing yards.
To put his accomplishment in perspective the Ravens generated only 98 yards of offense that afternoon not attributed to Lewis. The Ravens won 33-13, which included 3 Matt Stover field goals and a pick-6 by Ed Reed of 54 yards.
Here are the video highlights of Jamal’s record-breaking day.