By Brent Jones
The Baltimore Sun
December 22, 2004
Shortly after one of his worst games in recent memory, Jonathan Ogden, with his hair disheveled, his undershirt torn and displaying the mannerisms of a person still juiced from battle, offered up this basic explanation.
Dwight Freeney is good. Real good.
Freeney has to be because days like the one Ogden had in the Ravens' 20-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday do not happen (though they do happen numerous times a season to 95 percent of the league's other tackles).
Ogden was beaten twice for sacks and two other times for hurries off spin moves by the lightning-quick Freeney, who was a nonfactor the first time he faced Ogden two years ago.
Freeney, who leads the NFL with 15 sacks, has come up since then while Ogden has missed four games this season due to injury. Ogden may have had a tender hamstring and knee, but no excuses were rendered as he tipped his hat to his opponent.
"It wasn't a typical-me day, but it wasn't a bad day," Ogden said. "But it definitely wasn't a good day.
"He won some, I won some. It was a good, hard battle. They won the game, that's all that really matters. The guy is a hell of a player. He's about 6 feet tall and gets off the ball about as fast as anyone in the game."
Especially on turf and at the RCA Dome, polar opposite conditions to Pittsburgh, where the Ravens and the Steelers will play Sunday. The noise, which reverberates in a dome and does not allow the linemen to hear the snap count, will not be as deafening at Heinz Field.
"You play on grass, that would never have happened to J.O.," offensive line coach Jim Colletto said. "But that was very difficult in those circumstances with a guy that is as fast as he is and skilled at spinning as Freeney is, and it made it very difficult. ... It had nothing to do with his health or age, he just played against an awfully good guy."
While the Steelers do not have a Freeney - who is as speedy an end as the NFL has seen in years - or a fast turf, they do have the volatile Joey Porter, who is second on the team with seven sacks.
The Ravens hardly double-teamed Freeney and they will not give Ogden help against Porter, either. It has been that way for Ogden's nine-year career and not likely to change anytime soon, even if Ogden is a quarter of a second slower than usual.
"By design, we wanted to leave J.O. out there and let him handle Freeney, and we helped mostly on the other side with Ethan [Brooks] and Orlando [Brown] with a back or tight end," Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said.
"This week, these are linebackers coming off the edges for the most part. They're not a team that gets great pressure with their interior three. But they can bring it at times."
Harassing Kyle Boller will be a point of emphasis for the Steelers, who failed to rattle New York Giants rookie quarterback Eli Manning on Sunday and have not recorded a sack in the past two games.
The Steelers depend on Porter to apply much of their pressure off the edge, but Freeney he is not. Ogden, in fact, tends to contain Porter, who has no sacks in the past five games he has faced the Ravens. In three of those games, Porter has recorded three tackles or less.
Throw in a desperate need for a win to stay in the playoff hunt, Porter's generally surly attitude and the off-game against Freeney, Ogden figures to be a motivated monster.
"I've faced a lot of guys over a long career. [Freeney] can play some football," Ogden said. "[The Colts] can all get after the passer. That's what they do. They don't defend the run great, but on third down with that turf and that noise, they can go."
Said Cavanaugh: "In hindsight, with the pressure they had, maybe we should have had our backs out there [blocking].
"But J.O. will be fine. He is the least of our worries."
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