BEREA — Browns wide receiver Greg Little and Ravens safety James Ihedigbo have gotten away with their angry actions against each other.
The NFL announced Friday that neither player was fined for their confrontations during Cleveland’s 24-18 victory over Baltimore at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Little was called for a pair of personal fouls against Ihedigbo — one for unnecessary roughness in the first quarter, one for taunting in the second — during the Sunday game.
The former occurred after Ihedigbo appeared to choke Little on the ground, but it went unnoticed by the officials. Little retaliated by tearing off Ihedigbo’s helmet and flinging it down the field, which referee Scott Green flagged him for.
Though CBS television replays and still photography showed otherwise, Ihedigbo continues to insist that he didn’t attempt to obstruct Little’s ability to breathe.
“You can freeze the clips, I have my hand on his chest,” he told Baltimore reporters. “Then he ripped off my helmet and threw it.”
Ihedigbo committed a 5-yard penalty for making a horse collar tackle on Browns fullback Chris Ogbonnaya in the fourth quarter, but got off free for trash-talking to Little throughout the game.
An NFL spokesman added that Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata was not fined for his late hit on Cleveland quarterback Jason Campbell. Campbell suffered bruised ribs when he landed on the football as Ngata landed on him, but both players said the first-quarter sequence was an unavoidable accident.
Bad blood between the franchises is nothing new, and dates back to the original Browns moving to Baltimore following the 1995 season to become the Ravens.
In their first meeting this year on Sept. 15, Ravens running back Ray Rice allegedly spat in the face of Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor. The officials ticketed Taylor for unsportsmanlike conduct when he retaliated.
“Ask Phil (what would happen) if Ray Rice spit in his face again,” Little said. “What would he do? Is he going to pat him on the back? I’m pretty sure we’ll play again.”
The Browns have the fourth-highest kickoff return average in the NFL at 26.8, which is impressive considering they have used four players at the position.
Wide receiver Travis Benjamin (48.7), running back Fozzy Whittaker (28.2), running back Bobby Rainey (24.5) and wide receiver Greg Little (21.6) have each manned the spot through nine weeks.
Benjamin subsequently suffered a season-ending knee injury, while Rainey was released on Oct. 18, but the unit continues to successfully chug along.
“Honestly, it doesn’t make much of a difference who we’re blocking for,” linebacker Tank Carder said. “We all have our jobs to do and our lanes to protect, so if anything, it’s more difficult for the kickoff returners to get used to us than the other way around.”
Whittaker and Carder both said the biggest reason for Cleveland’s perennially strong return game is special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.
Despite losing Pro Bowl returner Josh Cribbs and wedge-buster Ray “Bubba” Ventrone to free agency, the Browns are averaging 1.4 more yards per kickoff this season than they did in 2012.
“Coach Tabor is very intense, but in a good way, because he has so many different ideas about how to make things happen,” Whittaker said. “I haven’t played for another coach quite like him, but I’m really liking being around him so far.”
Coming on strong
Rookie defensive end Armonty Bryant made a season-high five tackles, including a sack, in the Browns’ win over Baltimore.
The seventh-round selection also logged as much time on the field as Ahtyba Rubin and saw just one fewer snap than Taylor, making it obvious how much faith defensive coordinator Ray Horton has in him.
“Coach is putting a lot of trust in me, so hopefully I can make something happen,” Bryant said. “I’m getting a little bit more comfortable in the system every week.”
Though there is a huge difference going from East Central (Okla.) to the NFL, the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder said he hasn’t been overwhelmed.
“There’s not that much space on the edge, so you’ve got to make quicker steps and shorter steps,” Bryant said. “But that can play in my favor or it can play in their favor. You just never know. It comes down to who has a better start and who has the first step.”
Bryant has two sacks and nine tackles in his first six professional games.
A total of 59 players have appeared in a game for the Browns this season, tying them with Buffalo and Seattle for the fourth most in the NFL. Indianapolis and New England lead the way with 61 apiece, while Dallas is at 60.