Ravens Streaking Versus Browns


This is not a jinx. 

The Ravens have won 11 straight games against the Cleveland Browns, the NFL's longest active streak one team has over another single opponent. Baltimore will go for No. 12 this Sunday in Cleveland. 

It's an uncanny stretch, and something extremely difficult to pull off not only in a league that fosters so much parity, but also against a divisional foe that knows its rival inside and out. 

It's also something the Ravens don't put much stock in. Despite the numbers, they know it's no walk in the park – especially in the Dawg Pound. 

"It's always a fight right down to the finish, so we know it will be that kind of game again – at least that's what we are expecting and preparing for," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. 

The NFL's all-time longest winning streak one opponent has over another is 20 games, a streak the Dolphins held against the* *Bills throughout the entire 1970s. 

Still, it's been a while since the Browns beat the Ravens. The last time was on Nov. 18, 2007. And even then, the Browns strangely thought they had lost. 

The Browns had to be called back onto the field after referees ruled that a last-second 51-yard field goal was successful instead of short. The ball hit the left upright and seemingly bounced off the crossbar and out, and was originally ruled no good. But after a meeting of referees, it was determined the ball hit the curved center support behind the crossbar. Cleveland won in overtime, 33-30. 

Willis McGahee was on the field that day – on the Ravens sideline. He rushed 21 times for 102 yards and a touchdown. Now McGahee is a Cleveland Brown, trying to put an end to the Ravens' streak. 

"I remember it," McGahee said. "But that's in the past. You can't dwell on the past." 

McGahee signed with the Browns about a month ago, a few days after Cleveland's Week 2 loss to the Ravens. He was asked whether he's talked to his teammates about busting the streak. 

"These guys know what they need to do," he said. "These guys know what it means, what's at stake." 

Entering this season, the Ravens were tied with Denver for the longest active streak. The Broncos had also beaten the Browns in 10 straight. The Ravens took over the league lead with a Week 2 win in Baltimore. 

"We haven't won 11 straight on accident and we haven't planned on winning 11 straight," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "We've taken them one game at a time and it just so happened that it's worked out this way." 

The lopsided record between the two teams doesn't speak to how competitive the games have been. 

Flacco pointed to the meeting earlier this year, when the Browns shut the Ravens out in the first half. The Ravens got two second-half touchdowns and held Cleveland out of the end zone to win, 14-6. 

The Browns gave the Ravens two tough games last year too. In their first meeting at M&T Bank Stadium, a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter by Cary Williams was the difference. The Browns had a shot at tying the game with three throws to the end zone in the final seconds. 

In their second meeting in Cleveland, the Browns held a one-point lead with about nine minutes remaining. Wide receiver Torrey Smith scored on a 19-yard touchdown with under five minutes left for the game-winning score. 

The Ravens have won by an average of 12 points in their five meetings in Cleveland during the Harbaugh era. The problem for the Browns has been scoring. Cleveland has averaged less than 10 points per game during the 11-game streak. 

But the Browns typically play strong defense, and have a good unit once again this year. Flacco said they have a physical defensive front and pointed to their sixth-ranked pass defense. Overall, the Browns have the NFL's seventh-ranked defensive unit, allowing just 320.4 yards per game. 

"It's always a really good game," Flacco said. "I think that [the streak] shows you that we've had a good mindset and we've been able to take it one at a time. We know that they're a good opponent, so we don't take them lightly in any way."

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