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Sports Ravens

Injuries, inconsistency derail postseason hopes

The Ravens entered the 2005 season with postseason aspirations, but a host of critical injuries on defense and a continuation of last season's struggles on offense left the Ravens without a playoff berth for a second straight year.

Some of the injuries included linebacker Ray Lewis missing 10 games with a thigh injury, quarterback Kyle Boller missing seven games with a toe injury, and safety Ed Reed and defensive end Anthony Weaver both missing six games due to foot injuries.

The Ravens welcomed the Indianapolis Colts back to Charm City in a nationally-televised Sunday night season opener and the Baltimore-record crowd of 70,501 was treated to a great defensive battle for three and a half quarters. That was the only bright spot of the night for the Ravens, however. Three missed Matt Stover field goals and two Peyton Manning touchdown passes led the Colts to a 24-7 victory. To make matters worse, Boller left with a toe injury.

Week 2 at Tennessee didn't go any better for the Ravens. Running back Jamal Lewis was held to just nine yards on 10 carries and quarterback Anthony Wright, playing for the injured Boller, was sacked six times in a 25-10 loss.

An early bye week gave the team time to regroup and they rebounded by winning two of its next three games. The Ravens defense was dominant in week four, shutting down Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger in his first NFL start in a 13-3 Ravens victory. The Ravens followed that up with a sloppy 35-17 loss at Detroit , which included a team-record 21 penalties and the ejections of Terrell Suggs and B.J. Ward. The next game against the Cleveland Browns saw the return of ex-Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer, who led Baltimore to victory in Super Bowl XXXV. The Ravens sacked him four times and limited him to 147 passing yards in a 16-3 win for Baltimore.

If the Ravens were still harboring any postseason thoughts at that point, their hopes were crushed in the next month when they would lose four games in a row and five of six.

The Ravens went on the road for a two-game stretch. They lost 10-6 to the Chicago Bears. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Monday Night Football showdown at Heinz Field, the Ravens led for over 56 minutes. But a 37-yard field goal by Jeff Reed with less than two minutes left gave the Steelers a 20-19 victory.

A 21-9 home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals left the Ravens at 2-6 at the midway point of the season. Boller's return didn't help much in the next game against Jacksonville as the Jaguars won, 30-3.

The Ravens would exact some revenge on the hated Pittsburgh Steelers in the next game. Once again, the outcome was decided by a late field goal, but this time it was Stover's 44-yard kick with less than five minutes to play in overtime that gave the Ravens their biggest win of the year. The defense took advantage of Pittsburgh, which played without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger; Baltimore sacked backup Tommy Maddox six times.

Unfortunately, the Ravens couldn't build on the momentum and fell behind 34-0 at Cincinnati in their next game. The Ravens cut the lead to 13 with 12 minutes left, but eventually lost, 42-29.

At 3-8 with only five games left in the season, playoff hopes were all but out of the question; however, the Ravens would play much better in winning three of their next four games. The late-season rally started inconspicuously enough when Stover's 38-yard field goal with six seconds left secured a 16-15 win over the 1-10 Houston Texans.

The Ravens had a chance to steal a road game the next week at Denver, but turnovers and missed opportunities did the Ravens in and the Broncos escaped with a 12-10 win.

The offense exploded the next week against the Green Bay Packers. The Ravens scored on five of their first six possessions and intercepted Packers quarterback Brett Favre twice in the first half en route to a dominating 48-3 victory on Monday Night Football. The offense picked up where it left off in the next game against the Minnesota Vikings as Boller threw three touchdown passes for the second straight game. Baltimore played spoiler by eliminating Minnesota from playoff contention with a 30-23 win.

The Ravens continued their strong play early on in the season finale at Cleveland, jumping out to a 13-0 lead. But more missed chances on offense and a Dennis Northcutt punt return for a touchdown opened the door for a 20-16 come-from-behind win for the Browns. The loss left the Ravens at 0-8 on the road for the season -- it was their 11th consecutive road loss overall.

The offseason has already gotten off to an interesting start with owner Steve Bisciotti instructing head coach Brian Billick to forge more personal relationships with his players and rumors of Ray Lewis wanting to be traded.

Season Highlights

  • Jamal Lewis surpassed the 6,000 career-yard mark in a win against the Browns.
  • The Ravens defense allowed only 152 yards in a win against the Jets, the eighth lowest total in franchise history.
  • Terrell Suggs had six tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble in a win against the Texans.
  • Adalius Thomas scored the only defensive touchdown of the season with a 26-yard interception return for a score against the Texans.
  • Wide receiver Mark Clayton set team records in catches in a season by a rookie (34) and rookie receiving yards (346) against the Broncos.
  • The Ravens set a season-high in rushing yards (182) and yards from scrimmage (435) in a win over the Packers.
  • Wide receiver Derrick Mason led the team in receptions (86) and receiving yards (1,073).
  • Tight end Todd Heap led the team in receiving touchdowns with seven.
  • Linebacker Tommy Polley led the team in both tackles (96) and solo tackles (72).
  • Linebacker Adalius Thomas led the team in sacks with nine, barely edging out Terrell Suggs, who finished the season with eight.

The Year in the NFL

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl, despite being the sixth seed in the AFC, beating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL in Detroit. Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward was named the MVP of the game.
  • The San Francisco 49ers selected Utah quarterback Alex Smith with the first pick of the 2005 draft.
  • The Seattle Seahawks won their first playoff game since 1984 beating the Washington Redskins, 20-10, in the NFC Divisional round.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North title to make the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
  • Seattle running back Shaun Alexander was named the NFL's MVP after leading the league in rushing with 1,880 and setting an NFL record with 28 touchdowns.
  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led the NFL in passing yards with 4,110.
  • Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,563 and tied for the most touchdown receptions with 12. Smith split the Comeback Player of the Year award with New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
  • Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher won the Defensive Player of the Year award.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams won the Rookie of the Year award.
  • Chicago Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith was named Coach of the Year.

The Year in the World

  • Hurricane Katrina became the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, causing $75 million in damages. Louisiana and Mississippi were the most affected.
  • Pope John Paul II died April 2 at age 84. Joseph Ratzinger of Germany became Pope Benedict XVI on April 19.
  • The war in Iraq continued in the Middle East with the U.S. death count surpassing 2,000.
  • The Supreme Court lost two justices. Sandra Day O'Connor resigned and Chief Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist died of complications associated with thyroid cancer.
  • Gas prices went up to over $3 a gallon in certain areas of the US.
  • Terrorist attacks killed 56 people in London when bombs exploded on three subway trains and a bus.
  • In a highly publicized story, Terri Schiavo died 13 days after her feeding tube was removed.
  • Michael Jackson was found not guilty of child molestation, conspiracy and alcohol charges.
  • After 31 years, Kansas Police solved the BTK killer case when Dennis Rader was arrested and plead guilty to his crimes.
  • A massive earthquake in northern Pakistan, which registered a 7.6 on the Richter Scale, killed 73,000 people and left another 3 million homeless.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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