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Ravens bring dominant defense into Cleveland

Sep 19, 2006 - 10:44 PM Baltimore (2-0) at Cleveland (0-2) Sunday 4:05 pm EDT

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- The Baltimore Ravens are conjuring up memories of their 2000 Super Bowl season.

Led by their ferocious defense, the Ravens look for their first 3-0 start in franchise history when they face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in a matchup of AFC North rivals.

In 2000, the Ravens captured the Lombardi Trophy behind a record-setting defense that allowed 165 points, the fewest in a 16-game season.

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis - the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV - still anchors the Ravens' defense that also features Pro Bowlers in the secondary in free safety Ed Reed and cornerback Chris McAlister.

The Ravens are off to a dominant start defensively, allowing just two field goals in their first two games. They have forced nine turnovers and registered nine sacks to go along with a defensive touchdown in beating Tampa Bay and Oakland by a combined score of 55-6.

Linebacker Adalius Thomas and end-linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded two sacks apiece last week as the Ravens coasted to a 28-6 victory over Oakland.

Baltimore's defense has picked things up for the offense, which has yet to get going under two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Steve McNair, who has thrown for just 324 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.

In coach Romeo Crennel's second season, the Browns are looking to avoid starting 0-3 for the first time since 1999, the year they returned to the league.

Crennel watched his defense struggle last week as the Browns surrendered 481 total yards and 27 first downs in a 34-17 loss at Cincinnati.

The teams split two meetings last season, with each winning at home.

In the first meeting between the teams on October 16 in Baltimore, Suggs and Reed combined for nine tackles, a sack and a forced fumble to lead the Ravens to a 16-3 victory.

Antonio Bryant caught a career-high nine passes for 123 yards and Dennis Northcutt scored on a punt return as the Browns rallied from a 13-point third-quarter deficit en route to a 20-16 victory over the Ravens on January 1.

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