CLEVELAND -- Just 48 yards shy of making history, Jamal Lewis was finally brought down -- by his own coach.
The Cleveland Browns certainly didn't lay a hand on him.
Baltimore's bruising back closed in on the elusive 2,000-yard club and the Ravens zeroed in on the AFC playoffs by dismantling Cleveland 35-0 Sunday.
Lewis rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns -- one for 72 yards in the third quarter -- as the Ravens (9-6) moved back into first place in the AFC North by one game over Cincinnati (8-7).
The only one who stopped Lewis was Baltimore coach Brian Billick, who benched him for the final 8:23. That denied him a chance to close in on O.J. Simpson (1973), Eric Dickerson (1984), Barry Sanders (1997) and Terrell Davis (1998) as the only backs in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.
"We had to call you off 'em, Jamal," Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller yelled across the locker room to Lewis.
"Yep," Lewis said. "Y'all set the horse down."
By then, Lewis had demoralized the Browns (4-11), who yielded a single-game record 295 yards to him Sept. 14. In two games against Cleveland this season, Lewis had 500 yards on 52 carries and four TDs.
Following their first game with Baltimore, some of the Browns said Lewis' record was a fluke. "I don't know what the excuse is now," Lewis said.
If not for Billick wanting to save Lewis' for next week, the Browns could have gone in the record book again.
"You stop him, stop him, stop him," said Browns linebacker Andra Davis. "Then, 80 yards."
Lewis is the first back to have two 200-yard games against one team in the same season since Simpson, who rushed for 250 and 219 yards in '73 against New England. With one game left, he has 1,952 yards and needs 153 to break Dickerson's mark of 2,105.
He will chase 2,000 and Dickerson next Sunday night when the Ravens play host to Pittsburgh with a chance to get back to the postseason. Baltimore must win because Cincinnati holds all the tiebreakers if the teams finish with identical records.
"It's hard not to think about it," Lewis said of the rushing mark. "But we have to worry about a win, so we can go to the playoffs. I think it's attainable though, I know the offensive line is going to be all geeked up. It's meant to be, it will be."
The Browns contained Lewis for 2½ quarters.
With Baltimore leading 7-0 in the third quarter, Lewis darted right and cut back left at the line. Earl Little made a feeble attempt at a tackle, and Lewis outran cornerback Michael Lehan to the end zone to make it 14-0.
"I had a shot at him, but he put a move on me," Little said. "I have to make that tackle. He's one of the biggest, most powerful backs in the league. Old school, like Earl Campbell."
Lewis would later pick up 45 on a similar cutback run before his 24-yard TD sprint with 11:55 left made it 21-0. A few minutes later, Billick decided the lead was safe enough to rest Lewis.
"That was a little disappointing," said Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden. "It would have been nice to get him 2,000 today. But we've got next week to take care of that and get a win."
Chad Williams returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown in the fourth period to add insult to a season of injuries and controversies for the Browns, who have lost five straight and eight of nine.
Tim Couch, possibly playing his final home game, went 17-of-33 for 163 yards with one interception, two fumbles and was sacked five times.
"It's been a tough year," said Couch, who remains open to restructuring his contract for next season to stay with Cleveland. "We'll see if they want me here first."
- Ravens G Bennie Anderson (sprained knee) and TE John Jones (quad) got hurt in the first half and did not return.
- The Browns wore a black-and-white No. 14 decal on their helmets to honor late Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham, who passed away this week. Four of Graham's grandsons took part in the coin toss.
- Ravens T Orlando Brown played his first game in Cleveland since Dec. 19, 1999, when the former Browns player was accidentally hit in the eye by a penalty flag thrown by referee Jeff Triplette. "I went over to the spot where I got hurt at," said Brown, who won a lawsuit against the NFL for his injury. "It rolled through my head a couple of times. But I'm just glad I can still see."
- Couch's first completion -- a 4-yard pass to Jamel White -- was the 1,000th of his career.
- Browns DE Gerard Warren didn't start for the first time this season, benched for the first series by Davis for being late to a team meeting Saturday.
The Associated Press News Service
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