The Browns have one more chance to win a division game this season. If they
do not beat the Ravens Sunday in Baltimore they will go winless in their
division for the first time in franchise history, and that means going back to
when they were in the All-America Conference in 1946 -- not just back to their
rebirth in 1999.
The Browns are 4-9, which means in three more games they will conclude their
seventh losing season in eight years. Beating the Ravens would be difficult for
the Browns under normal circumstances, and now they are without starting safety
Brian Russell (elbow) and left defensive end Orpheus Roye (knee). Both players
were put on injured reserve Monday.
"I think it boils down to pride," wide receiver Joe Jurevicius said. "All of us
wear a name on the back of our jerseys and if you don't have pride in that, we
have issues. I have pride in my last name and I'm being paid a lot of money to
play the game I love. It's the least I can do.
"We have a challenge in front of us. We have to do things on a consistent basis
and when opportunities arrive, take advantage of those opportunities. It's not
rocket science. It's football. If you have pride in what you do, you can do the
little things right and the big things will come along."
Jurevicius said playing for his hometown Browns is important, but he had the
same attitude when he was with the Giants, Buccaneers and Seahawks, he said.
Coach Romeo Crennel said he is confident the Browns will play better than when
the Steelers beat them 27-7 Dec. 7. In that game the Steelers rolled up 528
yards offensively -- 303 yards on the ground. The Browns compounded their
mistakes by dropping nine passes.
"It wouldn't take a lot to play better." Crennel said. "These guys work hard and
they compete. I think they'll be able to put the last game behind them and move
on. The season isn't over and we still have games to play. I expect them to play
and give me their best effort for the remainder of the season."
The Browns were at this point of the season before. On Nov. 26 they played a
stinker while losing 30-0 to the Bengals. The performance between the lines was
overshadowed by Braylon Edwards' rant caught on camera. The stories that
followed dealt more with how much control Crennel had over his team than they
did about how poorly the Browns played.
Two days before the Browns played the Chiefs the following week, general manager
Phil Savage announced Crennel's job is safe. The Browns bounced back from the
Cincinnati game by beating the Chiefs 31-28 in overtime.
Crennel does not agree with the notion the Browns were playing for his job when
they beat Kansas City. Whatever button needs pushing, Crennel has only a few
more days to find it.
"I don't think they were playing for my job, whatever the perception is,"
Crennel said. "Hopefully, next time they'll play for themselves and play better.
In the future, I hope we don't have to get them back and we're up all the time."
SERIES HISTORY: 16th meeting. The Ravens lead the series, 10-5. The Browns have
not won in Baltimore since they beat the Ravens 14-13 on Dec. 22, 2002.
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR: A staph infection in his right
elbow is forcing safety Brian Russell to miss the rest of the season. He spent
Wednesday in Cleveland Clinic getting treatment. It was his seventh straight day
in the hospital. Russell started 12 straight games before the injury kept him
out of the game against Pittsburgh Dec. 7.
"It's hard for him not being in the locker room because he's so much of a
leader, especially in the secondary," starting strong safety Sean Jones said.
"We have to move on and keep him in our prayers. We're going to dedicate the
rest of the season to him because I know he wants to be with us."
Brodney Pool replaced Russell as the starter. The Browns are thin at safety
because rookie Justin Hamilton has a sore back, so safety Ben Emanuel was signed
to fill Russell's roster spot.