By Brent Jones
The Baltimore Sun
January 10, 2002
They are respectful of each other's Pro Bowl talent, so much so that neither would say much except how good the other player is.
Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden and Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor will square off during Sunday's wild-card playoff game at Pro Player Stadium in Miami.
When speaking of Taylor, one of the league's fastest pass rushers, Ogden, as he usually does, took the high road.
"He's a good player," Ogden said. "I've just got to go out there and get it done. You all aren't going to get nothing out of me. I don't know why you keep asking like I'm going to give something good."
Unless it is a good remark about Taylor, who took his praise a step further.
"He [Ogden] is the best in the game at left tackle. It's a challenge," Taylor said. "It'll be fun to go against him, especially with the stakes that there are in this game. It'll be a battle, and I'm looking forward to it."
Unlike Ogden, Taylor did not make the Pro Bowl this year after registering a team-high nine sacks and 86 tackles, fourth on the Dolphins.
While linebacker Zach Thomas and cornerback Sam Madison garnered much of the credit for a sound Miami defense, Taylor is the guy who could easily cause the Ravens more problems, as he did last season.
In the teams' Week 3 matchup in 2000, Taylor had 2.5 sacks rushing from both end positions, something he undoubtedly will do Sunday. Miami could easily put Taylor on the right side at times to create a more favorable matchup against tackle Kipp Vickers, who has struggled with his pass blocking this season.
From whichever side he rushes, when Miami wins Taylor usually has something to do with it. His interception of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on Dec. 10 helped turn a close game into a blowout.
"Jason Taylor has had a Pro Bowl year," Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said. "And I know he didn't make it because of the number of sacks. But the guy is second on our team in the number of tackles. He makes plays every game that make a difference and has a major influence on us winning the game - an interception, a stripped ball, a recovered fumble. He's having as big an impact on our team this year as he did last year."
Though the Ravens (10-6) and Dolphins (11-5) did not play this season, Ogden said he has seen improvement in Taylor's play, especially against the run.
In the past, teams have had success running against the 260-pound Taylor, who is somewhat undersized for a defensive lineman.
"In his first two years, he didn't play it that well," Ogden said. "But I think he's definitely learned that it is part of the game. In that scheme, they've got to be stout. He's doing a good job right now."
The pass-rushing ability of Taylor was never in question. The same can be said for Ogden's pass-blocking, especially since he is lined up against some of the top ends each week.
Taylor, at 6 feet 6, is built rather sleek for lineman, but two other talented ends have similar body types to his in Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice and Tennessee's Jevon Kearse. Rice gave Ogden problems in the Buccaneers' victory two weeks ago, and Kearse has had some success in the past.
Still, Ogden said he can't take very much from those earlier matchups.
"They are all built the same, but they rush different," Ogden said. "Jason is more of a speed, long-arm guy, whereas Jevon is straight speed and Simeon uses all kinds of shakes. But they all have different things that are working well. Whatever he's doing -- last year he had 16 sacks, this year he's got 10 -- so he obviously is doing something right."
Taylor's pass rushing is not something Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac is concerning himself with because of Ogden's ability.
"J.O. [Ogden] and the tackles that we have are going to do a fine job," Grbac said. "J.O. has been very sound the entire year."
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