- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

OWINGS MILLS, Md. Butch Davis committed a rookie mistake Wednesday.

The Cleveland Browns' first-year coach said his team has bigger things to worry about than wondering if the Baltimore Ravens' record-setting defense will rebound after surrendering the most points and yardage in its past 23 games during Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers.

"Obviously, we look at film, we study, we look at the opponents, do all the things that everybody does, but our main focus is primarily on us," Davis said. "We've got to make strides and get better and play better. How [the Ravens] play and who they've played and the outcome of their games is really somewhat insignificant."

But some consider the Ravens' defense the greatest of all time, and for Davis to say the league's second-rated unit a defense that has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 42 games doesn't sit well with the Ravens.

"You've got to watch your opponent," Ravens safety Rod Woodson said. "I don't know what Butch is thinking about. Maybe that's what they did in college."

Davis, who was hired by the Browns from the University of Miami on Jan. 30, should be concerned that Baltimore is looking for redemption this week.

In Sunday's loss to the Packers, the Ravens' swarming defense was humbled. Packers all-world quarterback Brett Favre, a three-time NFL MVP, shredded it by completing 27 of 34 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay's 31-23 victory.

Baltimore strutted into Lambeau Field with the NFL's best defense and limped home as the league's No. 2 unit after allowing Green Bay to roll for 391 yards. Did Favre's Packers expose the league's most feared defense?

"It's simple: Every dog has his day, and they had their day. There won't be too many more," said Ravens four-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

The loss was because of an uncharacteristic meltdown by the defense. The line didn't pressure Favre, cornerbacks Duane Starks and Chris McAlister seemed to take the afternoon off and Favre's West Coast offense rendered Lewis ineffective. Lewis, who leads the Ravens with 55 tackles, had only five.

If recent history is any indication, the Ravens (3-2) undoubtedly will bring their "A" defense against the surprising Browns (3-2) Sunday in Cleveland. After Baltimore lost its first game a 21-10 upset by Cincinnati on Sept. 23 the Ravens yielded just 228 and 185 yards, respectively, in back-to-back defeats of Super Bowl contenders Denver and Tennessee.

"I'm betting [the defensive players] are going to show up Sunday with a little extra bounce in their step," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Despite the loss to Green Bay, Baltimore's run defense is still the league's best. Anchored by massive defensive tackles Tony Siragusa (6-foot-3, 340 pounds) and Sam Adams (6-3, 330), it surrenders just 58.2 yards per game.

With six consecutive games coming up against AFC Central opponents, the Ravens and their brash defense can wrest control of the division. That is, if their defense decides to step back up to last season's Super Bowl level. The unit is virtually unchanged from last season, with the exception of strong safety Corey Harris, who is an upgrade from last year's starter, Kim Herring.

If there was a silver lining to the Ravens' defensive collapse, it's that Favre can make any defense look bad. Last week he performed at an MVP level, and there was nothing Baltimore could do about it, especially when the Packers spread out the defense with four-receiver sets.

"I'm not going to dwell on last week. Brett Favre had an unbelievable game," Siragusa said. "When you have a quarterback that throws 10 to 12 perfect passes that you can't defend against, you just have to get back up and go again. The reason why the defense is good, and why we've been good over the years, is because we are consistent. This team doesn't know how to lose. [For] some teams, losing is a consistent thing. When we lose around here, it's sort of a tragedy."


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