Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - David vs. Goliath.
That is how Thursday night’s match up between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens shapes up.
There is the real possibility that the contest between the have (Ravens) and have not’s (Browns) could get out of hand quickly but receiver/returner Josh Cribbs vows that it won’t.
“We will not embarrass our fans or our organization. We will play hard,” Cribbs said. “It is in prime time. We will not embarrass our fans. We will play hard to the final whistle and hopefully we will have the higher score.”
Hopefully, but not likely.
Here’s how it breaks down.
The Ravens are a Super Bowl contender.
The Browns are competing for another top-5 draft pick.
The Ravens have won 12 straight at home and 20 of 21 overall.
The Browns haven’t won in Baltimore since 2007.
The Ravens are 2-1 and coming off an emotional last second win Sunday night over New England.
The Browns are just looking for a win, any win as the AFC’s lone winless team at 0-3.
Baltimore has won 9 straight in the AFC North.
Cleveland has lost their last 11 games within the division.
The Ravens’ offensive weapons include Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.
The Browns have Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and, well, that’s about it other than Cribbs – and he’s pretty much been relegated to punt and kick return duty.
While Richardson might be looking forward to facing Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, he might not want to face him ever again after Thursday night.
“It’s another ballgame for us,” Richardson said. “People say we don’t have a chance, but I know we have a chance. I don’t care what they say.
“A lot of people fall asleep on us. When they fall asleep on us, that’s when we come with our A game.”
Luckily for the Browns, their rookie back is used to the prime time spotlight and won’t shy away from the bright lights.
Instead, he hopes to shine.
“It is just another game to me,” Richardson said. “I just came from a place that had a lot of showcasing and a lot of media so that doesn’t really bother me at all. I just can’t wait to get out there Thursday and showcase every skill that I’ve got that God has blessed me with.”
On defense Baltimore is loaded, as they usually are.
Haloti Ngata anchors their defensive line. Ed Reed and Lewis, who is in his 17th season, wait behind him. They mix in Jameel McClain, Ladarius Webb, Benard Pollard and Brendon Ayanbadejo just for fun.
Reed has made a career of feasting off of Browns quarterbacks.
10 of Reed’s 59 career interceptions have come from them. The Browns should at least get a ‘thank you’ when Reed delivers his Hall of Fame address in Canton.
“He’s so good they give him a lot of freedom,” Weeden said. “It’s my job to take care of him. You have to know where No. 20 is at.”
The Browns are without their best corner, Joe Haden, for the third straight game and have allowed 8 touchdowns through the air. D’Qwell Jackson is the closest thing they have to an impact defensive player – at least of the same caliber of the Ravens.
Jabaal Sheard, Billy Winn and John Hughes all show promise up front on the defensive line but they are young.
The players are well aware that they aren’t being given a snowballs chance in you know where to win Thursday.
“There’s so much negative vibe outside this locker room,” Weeden said. “It’s everywhere. In this locker room, my goal and I think the rest of the guys’ goal is to keep the positive vibe in here. It’s good right now.
“Yeah, we’re all frustrated, we all want to be 3-0, but any time you let all the outside frustrations come into this locker room, it starts breaking guys apart. That’s a recipe for disaster.”
Incoming owner Jimmy Haslam III patrolled Tuesday’s practice as he’s done at least once per week since agreeing to buy the team.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Haslam pulled Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur aside and asked, ‘So fella’s, how bad will it get Thursday?’
Rest assured, Haslam does not want his new $1 billion investment to be embarrassed in their only appearance this season on national TV.
Neither do their fans.
Unfortunately, in life, we don’t always get what we want.