BALTIMORE - Jamal Lewis sent a couple of messages on one play Sunday at his old stomping grounds.
In the first quarter of a 33-30 overtime win, he caught a swing pass, stiff-armed cornerback Chris McAlister and gained 25 yards before being pushed out of bounds on the Ravens sideline. Lewis, who played in Baltimore for seven years, spiked the ball in celebration and was penalized 15 yards for taunting.
He regretted the penalty, but his messages had been delivered. Lewis can catch, he can still run and the Ravens shouldn`t have let him go.
"It was stupid," Lewis said. "I shouldn`t have done it. I was caught up in the moment and I was on their sidelines. It was the perfect spot, the perfect opportunity.
"It`s me. They know who I am. I was very amped up before this game. It was a physical run after the catch. They said I couldn`t catch the football, so I proved a lot."
Lewis rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, a 4.2 average. It was the most yards allowed by the Ravens this year. Lewis added four catches for 30 yards.
"If we can get 60 yards against them, we can run against anybody," he told his teammates after the first win over the Ravens in September. "It was just hard, physical running. It started from line of scrimmage. I wanted to get downhill, get my shoulders square and Coach called it. He let it go.
"I owe it to the offensive line. I just run where the hole is and try to get a few extra yards after."
Lewis, 28, has seven rushing touchdowns, matching the Browns` total from last year. Critics questioned how much he had left in the tank last week after his numbers had declined over the last month.
"I know what I can do. This team knows what I can do," he said after his 100th game. "I have nothing to prove to nobody, except my offensive line."
On one run, he hurdled cornerback Derrick Martin on the way to a 21-yard gain.
"It was a great call," Lewis said. "I saw the defense flow fast and it was wide open. I knew he was going low. He wasn`t going to go high.
"It felt like I had young legs."
Lewis downplayed the return to Baltimore during the run-up to the game, but afterward admitted it felt good to get a win against his former team.
"It`s a great feeling coming back here," he said. "I didn`t know what to expect. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish."
Rookie cornerback Eric Wright was injured on Baltimore`s first offensive play and didn`t return. The Browns announced it as a right knee sprain and coach Romeo Crennel said he`d be further evaluated today.
Wright, who had been playing better as the season progressed, could barely put weight on the leg and received help from the trainers as he walked off the field. He was driven into the locker room on a cart.
"It definitely hurt," Leigh Bodden, the other starting cornerback, said. "Hopefully we`ll get him back sooner than later. We`ll hold it down until he gets back."
Daven Holly replaced Wright with the base defense, and rookie Brandon McDonald became the nickelback. Safety Mike Adams was used when the Browns went with six defensive backs.
Swing and a hit
Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was penalized 15 yards for punching Browns left tackle Joe Thomas in the face mask after Thomas tackled linebacker Ray Lewis after he recovered a Braylon Edwards fumble in the first quarter. The penalty cost the Ravens 15 yards and pushed them back to their 30-yard line.
The official was close to the play, but chose not to eject Ngata, Baltimore`s first-round pick in 2006. Thomas, the third pick of the draft in April, jawed at the Ravens before Cleveland`s next offensive series. Linebacker Bart Scott gave him a little shove back toward the huddle.
After Ravens coach Brian Billick challenged a Tim Carter catch on the sidelines in the second quarter, referee Pete Morelli returned to the field after a delay of a couple of minutes.
"The system has malfunctioned, therefore the ruling on the field stands," Morelli announced.
Replays in the pressbox showed Carter dragged his foot and the catch was good. The Ravens weren`t charged with a timeout.
After the officials declared Phil Dawson`s tying field goal good to force overtime, center Hank Fraley had a question in the huddle during overtime.
"Hank asked, â€˜How`d they get the machine fixed?`" quarterback Derek Anderson said. "I said, â€˜I don`t know.`"
Morelli said he didn`t look at replay to reverse the ruling on Dawson`s kick.
Defensive lineman Shaun Smith was inactive after a teammate fell into his knee Thursday in practice. The other Cleveland inactives were: cornerbacks Kenny Wright and Ricardo Colclough, offensive linemen Isaac Sowells and Greg Eslinger, receiver Travis Wilson and running back Jerome Harrison. Ken Dorsey was the third quarterback.
For the Ravens, tight end Todd Heap (thigh) was inactive after being listed as questionable on Friday.
The NFL Network reported last week, and a local television station followed, that the Browns were considering using the franchise label on Anderson, who will be a restricted free agent following the season. A high-ranking member of the Browns front office said the story was without substance and that the franchise tag hadn`t been discussed.
The franchise label would give the Browns two first-round draft picks if Anderson were signed by another team, but if he stayed the Browns would have to pay him an average of the top quarterback salaries, likely more than $10 million.
The Browns would be better off giving him the highest tender for a restricted free agent, which would pay him $2.562 million if he stayed and give the Browns first- and third-round picks if they didn`t match the offer from another team.
Inside linebacker D`Qwell Jackson was active for the first time since spraining his ankle Oct. 28. He didn`t start but played on special teams.
*Crennel improved to 3-for-22 on replay challenges in his career, as a Joshua Cribbs fumble on a kickoff return was overturned.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.