Ravens safety Eric Turner did not intend to be a spectator for most of yesterday's loss to New England. But after he sprained his left ankle early in the second quarter, Turner had little choice.
"You never want to miss a game. It's frustrating. I know all about that from last year," said Turner, who also missed the last eight games of the 1995 season with a back injury. He was injured at the end of an 18-yard run yesterday by Patriots running back Curtis Martin.
"I planted my foot, and something popped," Turner said.
X-rays on the safety's ankle were negative, and his status for next week's game in Indianapolis is day-to-day.
The loss of Turner had a detrimental effect on the Ravens, who lost their defensive quarterback and a player who might have been able to prevent some of the long passes New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe completed during an explosive second half.
"It seemed like we just went flat [after Turner left the game]," said safety Stevon Moore, who was beaten on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Jefferson in the third quarter. "That's not the time to go flat. When you lose one of your stars, that's the time to come together. That's the time you regroup, step up and make plays. We didn't do that."
Tony Jones goes out
Offensive left tackle Tony Jones also missed more than half the game after injuring his left knee late in the second quarter.
Jones played on the first offensive series of the second half, before sitting out the rest of the game. His X-rays also came back negative, and Jones expects to continue his streak of consecutive starts against the Colts next week.
"If the knee is sprained, then I'll play," said Jones, who has started 104 consecutive games, highest on the team.
Running back Earnest Byner, who rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns, also missed the closing minutes with a bruised left shoulder.
Block proves difference
When the Patriots blocked Greg Montgomery's punt and scored an easy touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, it didn't look like the potential, game-clinching score.
But that play, which ended with a 4-yard return for a touchdown by Tedy Bruschi and gave New England a 46-22 lead, ended up providing the margin of victory after the Ravens rallied for two touchdowns to lose by eight.
"I don't know what happened," said Montgomery, after his first punt of 1996 -- and the eighth of his career -- was blocked. "I had my head down, and I was just going through my [kicking] steps. Then I heard the tip and started looking for the ball."
Bledsoe's fears not realized
Bledsoe was worried about how the Patriots would play coming off a bye week, and was convinced the Ravens would make it difficult for him to connect with tight end Ben Coates.
"Coming into the game, we felt they were going to do everything they could to get Ben out of his game," Bledsoe said. "But after the first couple of series, they couldn't do very much to stop him. Back to the old Bledsoe-to-Coates thing."
Gardner a force
Ravens fullback Carwell Gardner was back in the thick of the offense again yesterday. After virtually disappearing in recent weeks as a ball carrier, Gardner gave the Ravens a spark with 50 yards on six carries.
Midway through the second quarter, he started the Ravens' 73-yard touchdown drive -- which gave them their last lead at 14-10 -- with three carries for 37 yards.
Testaverde ties mark
Vinny Testaverde recorded his first 300-yard game of the season, the 16th of his 10-year career. He threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, and his three touchdown passes tied a career high.
Testaverde's top two targets, wide receivers Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander, continued to flourish. Jackson caught a career-high eight passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Alexander, who made several diving grabs, had 123 yards on six catches. It was the fourth 100-yard game of his three-year career.
"We didn't quit. That's one thing we have instilled in this team," Jackson said. "And I don't think we forgot to fight today."
Just another game
The fact that they're playing in Indianapolis next week doesn't seem to have much significance for some Ravens players.
"It doesn't mean much to me," safety Moore said. "I've got a football game I've got to play. It's Indianapolis and the Baltimore Ravens. The fans may have some beefs, but I'm trying to win a ballgame."
Said running back Earnest Byner: "For me, personally, no. We've got to go play a game. It's going to be a hard-fought game. Obviously for our fans, they feel it. On the radio stations around here, you hear them talking, [saying] 'We haven't forgotten.' "
They said it
"It's still a young season, but that clock is ticking and it doesn't look good if we continue to play like this. We stunk the place up." -- Moore.
"I think it shows we're not quitters and we have the potential to move the football under any circumstance." -- Ravens tight end Brian Kinchen, on the team's late rally.
Leaders coming around
Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda thought leadership was a problem earlier this year, but apparently thinks that problem is over despite the team's having a 2-3 record.
"I think there are enough guys coming around," said Marchibroda. "We're getting more and more of it. We're fighting back. In the last two ballgames, we haven't forgot to fight. We're on the right road when we do that."
Ravens center Steve Everitt said: "We've got the base of what we need, we scored 38 points and we're not surprised about it. We put ourselves in bad situations a couple of times. It's not like we need some big, crazy solution. We're not that far away."
The final word
Ravens receiver Jackson left the stadium last night believing the best team had lost.
"I personally don't feel as if they are a better team," said Jackson. "They are a good team. But I think we are a better team than the New England Patriots."
On the road
The Patriots finally got their first win on the road. New England returns home next week to play the Washington Redskins.
"We're lucky to get on the road and get a win," said Patriots coach Bill Parcells. "That was a big step for us. We had two weeks to get ready for them. The game went to the wire. The fans got their money's worth today."
Bledsoe's four scoring passes tied a career high, set during his rookie year against Miami on Jan. 2, 1994, and tied the following fall against the Dolphins (Sept. 4, 1994).
The five two-point conversions in the game -- three by the Ravens-- set an NFL record. The old record was three set by Seattle (two) and Kansas City (one) in 1994.
The 46 points by the Patriots were the most they've scored since a 50-point outburst against the Colts in 1984. The 84 total points were the most scored in a game in the NFL this year.
New England's Coates caught a pass in his 54th consecutive game, extending his streak when he caught a 12-yard swing pass on the Patriots' first offensive play.
Ravens wide receiver Calvin Williams, who had been quiet through the season's first month, awakened with seven catches for 54 yards against the Patriots. New England, ranked third in the NFL in interceptions with eight in four games, picked off another, when Willie Clay intercepted Testaverde in the end zone.
Baltimore averaged 4.8 yards a carry against the NFL's second-stingiest rushing defense. The Patriots had allowed an average gain of just 2.8 yards coming into the game. The Ravens' Jackson caught a touchdown pass for the third consecutive game. The Ravens have sold out all three of their home games and are averaging 62,927 per game. Overall, attendance in the league is down about 1,300 fans a game.
MA A look at how the Ravens' pass defense has fared this season:
Opp. C-A-I Yds TDs Sacks
Oak. 17-26-2 192 2 3
Pit. 18-25-1 198 2 1
Hou. 17-28-0 180 2 1
N.O. 23-30-0 207 1 1
N.E. 25-39-0 310 4 0
Tot. 100-148-3 1,087 11 6
Pub Date: 10/07/96