BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens gave Jamal Lewis the football, as promised, and he delivered on a pledge in setting a single-game NFL record with 295 yards rushing.
Lewis’ incredible performance, which included two touchdowns, led Baltimore past the Cleveland Browns 33-13 on Sunday.
He would have had a third score and surpassed 300 yards if not for a holding penalty on Marcus Robinson during a 60-yard run in the first half.
“On a day like today, I can’t regret anything,” said Lewis, who averaged a whopping 9.8 yards on his 30 carries. “It was beautiful.”
Lewis ran for an 82-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage, added a 63-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and broke the record with a 3-yard run with 6:55 left.
He shattered the single-game mark held by Corey Dillon of Cincinnati, who ran for 278 yards on Oct. 22, 2000, against Denver.
During a phone call with Cleveland linebacker Andra Davis earlier in the week, Lewis said he would break the record if given 30 carries — twice as many as one week earlier in a 34-15 loss to the Steelers.
“Andra told me he wanted me to get the ball 30 times. I told him if I get the ball 30 times, it’s going to be a career day,” Lewis said. “I’m not going to say I predicted it. It was lucky.”
Lewis, who missed the entire 2001 season with a torn knee ligament, had 100 yards by his second carry yesterday and was at 180 yards by halftime.
“I was going in at halftime when (Ravens tackle) Jonathan Ogden said, ‘Let’s go get it. We can get 300 yards,”‘ Lewis said.
Said Ogden: “I figured if he broke the record, we’d get the win.”
The Ravens (1-1) spoke all week about the importance of using Lewis more, especially since the tailback shredded Cleveland for 187 yards in a game last October.
The Browns knew he was coming, but they were powerless against him.
“This is the most disgusting feeling I ever had in my life. … He said what he said, and then he did it. It’s in the history books,” Browns safety Earl Little said.
After the Browns (0-2) cut a 13-point deficit to 16-13, Lewis’ 63-yard TD run gave Baltimore a 10-point cushion with 14:49 remaining.
“They didn’t get quiet until the end of the fourth quarter,” Lewis said of the Browns. “Andra told me, ‘I can’t say anything else.’ He was congratulating me as we were playing. He showed me much respect.”
Matt Stover kicked a field goal with 1:58 left for Baltimore, and Ed Reed returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown on the final play.
Lewis’ heroics overshadowed a stout performance by the Baltimore defense, which limited Cleveland to one first down in the first half while taking a 16-3 lead.
Lewis also helped the Ravens overcome another poor showing by rookie quarterback Kyle Boller, who hurt his knee and was replaced by Chris Redman in the third quarter. Boller went 7 for 17 for 78 yards and an interception.
“I got bumped on the left knee a little bit,” Boller said. “It would be nice to hit some more throws, but when you have a running back running like that, it takes the pressure off you.”
Redman fumbled on his first play, losing the ball while cocking his arm to pass. The Browns recovered and scored their first touchdown of the season on a 4-yard pass from Kelly Holcomb to Kevin Johnson.
Minutes later, Lewis took off on his 63-yard run.
Baltimore’s 343 yards rushing was a franchise record, and the most the Browns ever allowed.
“This could be a wake-up call,” Cleveland tackle Gerald Warren said. “The defense has to stay strong, stick together and not let this move us back. We have to block it out and not focus on this game.”
Lewis set the tone on the game’s second play, following an excellent downfield block by Travis Taylor on his 82-yard score.
Later in the first quarter, Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis recovered a fumble by William Green, who had gone 234 carries without losing the ball. That set up a field goal by Stover for a 10-0 lead.
Stover kicked a 40-yarder to make it 13-0, and Phil Dawson kicked a field goal for the Browns after Boller threw an interception.
Long-range kicker Wade Richey then made a franchise-record 56-yarder, giving the Ravens a 13-point halftime lead.