The Ravens made it clear this week that it wasn’t going to happen again.
Their proud defense wasn’t going to give up big plays and big yardage to Browns running back Peyton Hillis. They weren’t going to allow him to shed tackles, power through defenders and post triple-digits in the yardage category.
It had happened back in Week 3, but there would be no repeat performance. Ray Lewis all but guaranteed it.
And the Baltimore defense made good on their leader’s words.
Hillis gashed the Ravens for 144 yards and a touchdown back on Sept. 26, but he barely got going today. The third-year back had only 35 yards on 12 carries this afternoon in the Ravens’ 20-10 win over the Browns, a lowly 2.9 yards per carry.
He might have been a bit banged up coming into the game (Hillis missed some practice time this week with a knee injury), and he certainly wasn’t at full strength after taking an Ed Reed hit to the ribs in the first quarter. But Hillis is still tough to bring down, and the Ravens did a good job containing the 6-1, 240 pound human bowling ball.
“This is a real legitimate running team, and it took everything we had just to control it,” head coach John Harbaugh told reporters after the game. “Our defense really played well. The run defense was solid.”
Back in that Sept. matchup earlier this season, Hillis broke two long runs - of 48 and 25 yards. Today, his longest run was just seven yards.
Hillis also was the Browns’ leading receiver entering today’s game. He had 59 receptions through the season’s first 14 contests and was second on the team in receiving yards with 469.
The Ravens held the Arkansas product in check in that department, as well. Hillis had only one catch for five yards on the day.
Lewis publically called out both Hillis and his defense this week, saying that Hillis’ rushing total back in Week 3 was a fluke and the Ravens’ defense played so poorly that Lewis’ son could have posted the type of numbers that the Browns’ running back did.
Hillis has put together a truly impressive season and he clearly isn’t the “blind cat” that Lewis called him, but that’s not the point. Lewis wanted to fire up his troops and make sure they were ready for Hillis this time around.
They were ready, alright.
Hillis went nowhere this afternoon, putting the pressure squarely on rookie quarterback Colt McCoy’s shoulders, and the Ravens coasted to division win.