Cleveland Browns must stop the run against St. Louis Rams to earn another win

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BEREA — The one thing that has haunted the Cleveland Browns all season long will be the biggest key to leaving St. Louis on Sunday with a win, the run defense. The Browns rank dead last in the NFL in stopping the run giving up an average of 149 yards per game.

“In this game for sure, if we don’t go out there wanting to stop the run and wanting to play that street fight with them up front because that is what they are built to do, that is what they are going to do, then we will get embarrassed defending the run,” said Browns head coach Mike Pettine.

Going back to Pettine’s time in New York with the Jets and his one-year stint in Buffalo with the Bills, his run defenses have ranked 8th overall, third, 13th and 26th. In 2013 while serving as defensive coordinator the Bills run defense ranked 28th. Pettine’s run defenses have not ranked above 26th in the league in each of the last four seasons.

“It’s a source of frustration,” Pettine said. “It’s probably the biggest issue that we deal with here and I know there were some growing pains going into a new system and having new faces in the front seven again.”

This week, the Browns are facing the second best running back in the league in rookie Todd Gurley out of Georgia. Gurley has 55 carries for 314 yards, but has not yet scored a touchdown.

“Gurley is really starting to blossom as a rookie,” Pettine said. “I certainly think they view this as a match-up of their strength versus our weakness.”

The Browns hope the run defense won’t haunt them again Sunday when they travel to St. Louis to face the 2-3 Rams. Kickoff is at 1:00 p.m.

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