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Cleveland 27, Baltimore 17

Nov. 18, 2001 at 8:17 PM   |   Comments

BALTIMORE, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Rookie Anthony Henry tied a franchise record with three interceptions and Jamel White quelled a potential comeback with a fourth-quarter touchdown Sunday as the Cleveland Browns completed a sweep of their season series with the Baltimore Ravens, 27-17.

The Browns defense also dominated on Oct. 21, collecting seven sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in a 24-14 home victory over the defending Super Bowl champions.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Baltimore (6-4), which fell 1 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh in the AFC Central. The Browns (5-4) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Art Modell moved the Browns' storied franchise to Baltimore five years ago and celebrated as the Ravens captured the Super Bowl last season. The Browns returned as an NFL franchise in 1999 and had lost the four previous meetings with Baltimore prior to this season, the last three by a combined score of 97-16.

Henry's three interceptions tied a mark set by eight other Cleveland players. The record was last matched by Steven Moore at Houston on Sept. 17, 1995.

"I was in the right places at the right time," said Henry, who increased his season tally to seven. "The (defensive) line made the pressure happen for me to get those opportunities. They are the champs and we just beat them twice this year."

White's one-yard run with 4:02 left capped a 12-play, 68-yard drive, which included 47 yards on the ground against the league's top run defense.

The Ravens (6-4) failed to overcome four interceptions and a fumble by Elvis Grbac.

"I made some dumb mistakes today," Grbac said. "You can chalk this loss to me."

But Baltimore still cut its deficit to 20-17 with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter when Matt Stover kicked a 42-yarder to set an NFL record by producing a field goal for the 36th straight game.

"(Grbac) sees what he sees. He's my starting quarterback and he's the best chance for us to win," Ravens coach Brian Billick said when asked if he considered bringing in veteran backup Randall Cunningham. "There was no way I was going to take him out. He was just trying to make things happen and it didn't turn out for him."

"That's Brian's decision, not mine," Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe said when he was posed with the same question. "You don't turn over the football four times and expect to win. This is very disappointing to me. We didn't show up today."

Sharpe made a 29-yard catch 7:38 into the contest to become the NFL's all-time leader in receptions by a tight end with 663. In his 12th NFL season, Sharpe broke the mark of Browns Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome -- the Ravens' vice president of player personnel.

"Yes, I'm happy with it," Sharpe said. "But no individual goal is bigger than getting a win and that just didn't happen."

A seven-time Pro-Bowler, Sharpe became the NFL's all-time leader among tight ends in receiving yards on Oct. 7, when he also erased a record held by Newsome.

Sharpe led the Ravens with seven receptions for 78 yards.

A trusted target in crucial situations, Sharpe made only one such catch on Sunday. Grbac found the 6-2, 240-pound target with a 14-yard pass on third and four to the Cleveland 26. Two plays later, receiver Brandon Stokley pulled in a diving 21-yard touchdown catch with his fingertips as Baltimore sliced the deficit to 17-7 with 5:34 to go in the half.

"He was brought here to do a job and it's not getting done," Sharpe said of Grbac's five turnovers.

Grbac's four picks tied the Ravens' record for most passes intercepted in a game. Current New York Jet Vinny Testaverde had four against Cincinnati on Nov. 3, 1996, when he quarterbacked Baltimore during its first season after the move from Cleveland.

Joining the Ravens as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, Grbac already had the fifth highest interception total amongst AFC quarterbacks with nine prior to Sunday.

He reached double digits with 12:13 remaining in the half. On a pass intended for second-year receiver Travis Taylor on third and three, Grbac's tipped pass landed in the arms of Henry at the Baltimore 39.

The Browns' ensuing drive finished with Benjamin Gay for his first career touchdown, a seven-yard run around left end, and a 10-0 lead for Cleveland.

"We made the plays when we needed to," said Gay, who had 18 carries for 56 yards and a pair of kickoff returns for 66 yards. "That's the best defense in the NFL and we beat them twice. That shows us that we're capable of beating anyone."

Grbac's next interception came about four minutes after his first. Reading that the Browns were playing man defense, Grbac audibled and let go a quick pass intended for Taylor. But safety Devin Bush snagged it and ran 43 yards for the score as Cleveland increased its lead to 17.

"I didn't make the plays when I needed to and I made the mistakes," Grbac said. "If anyone is frustrated, I'm the No. 1 guy."

The Ravens had an excellent opportunity to at least put a field goal on the board before the half. After two passes to the end zone were broken up by the Cleveland secondary, Grbac once again located Henry.

"We didn't make the big play when we needed to," Grbac said. "We had our chances today and we didn't do anything with them. We need to eliminate these mistakes."

The besieged quarterback seemed to settle down after the interval. But on the 13th play of a second-half opening 75-yard drive, Grbac underthrew Qadry Ismail at the rear-left corner of the end zone and Henry picked it off.

Grbac also threw for 261 yards on 23 of 44.

Tim Couch did not shine for the Browns either. He threw his third interception on the opening play of the fourth quarter.

All-Pro safety Rod Woodson recorded the first interception against the third-year quarterback 8:12 into the second half. Just two plays later, rookie tight end Todd Heap registered his first career touchdown, cutting the score to 20-14.

Couch's second interception led to Stover's record setting field goal. Despite the errant passes, the Kentucky product was pleased the Browns ended their streak of dropping consecutive overtime games to Chicago and Pittsburgh.

"We showed a lot of resilience today," Couch said. "A win like this gives us our swagger back, especially after losing the last two. Not many teams can come in here and win."

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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