Twice in the fourth quarter, the Browns drove inside the Ravens' 20, only to be denied the end zone. Ray Lewis' interception on a ball thrown right at his chest at the 15 snuffed one Cleveland threat. And a fourth-down tackle by nickel back James Trapp on a short pass to rookie back Travis Prentice finished it off.
Yes, the Ravens took the shutout bait. For the record, those 1985 Bears beat Dallas, 44-0, on Nov. 17, and Atlanta, 36-0, a week later.
"Basically, I was saying to the guys, 'This is the red zone, this is what we're all about. Let's not let them in, let's get the ball.' That's what happened."
In the city that made the Dawg Pound fashionable, Woodson made an appropriate canine analogy about the Ravens' red zone success.
"You see those dogs when they're getting chased and their hair raises up," Woodson said. "It's like, 'I've got my house here, I've got to fight a little bit.'
"I think when they get down there, we get a little more aggressive. I think our character and pride come into play, and we play a little harder, a little more focused."
Lewis described the atmosphere in the red zone in simpler terms.
"It's gut-check time," he said, "and we look each other in the eyes and say somebody's got to make a play."
A week after the Ravens ravaged the Cincinnati Bengals for four touchdowns and 37 points, their offense sputtered against the Browns' injury-depleted defense.
"We had as many mental errors in the first half as we've had since I've been here," said quarterback Tony Banks, who completed 18 of 34 throws for 169 yards and one interception. "We didn't have that passion.
"We didn't attack with the run the way maybe we should have with their injury situation."
The Browns were without starting linebacker Rahim Abdullah and his backup, Lenoy Jones. The Ravens balanced the scale by playing two backup tackles in the second half after Harry Swayne and Jonathan Ogden went out with sprained ankles.
After rushing for 81 yards in the first half, the Ravens rushed for 107 in the second. Rookie Jamal Lewis led the team with 86 yards, but played sparingly after halftime because of a hip pointer. Priest Holmes picked up the slack and gained 68 of his 82 yards in the second half.
"I was very gratified by the physical play in the second half," Billick said.
He was more gratified by his defense, which he described as "magnificent."
The shutout talk was the right touch.
"We have to get motivated somehow," Burnett said. "What better motivation than to be in the record books. I think it worked."
Even as the words Super Bowl have crept more and more into the Ravens' vocabulary, Burnett was cautiously optimistic.
"I'm not going to start blowing smoke, or make predictions, or print Super Bowl tickets yet," he said. "But so far, so good."
Ravens fill in blank once more
Second shutout in row puts motivated defense in rare air of '85 Bears; Billick 'challenge' works; Browns forced to turn over ball in red zone
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