For a change, Ravens watch other team self-destruct

THE BALTIMORE SUN

There may be nothing wrong with the Ravens that can't be cured by getting the Jaguars, Steelers and Packers off their schedule.

The Ravens, who are 0-5 against those teams, boosted their record to 3-1 against their other foes yesterday with a 13-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders came in with a 6-2 record and a five-game winning streak, but they looked like last year's 4-12 team. Maybe they had spent too much time watching tape of the Ravens' 45-19 loss to Jacksonville.

"Those guys were kind of arrogant," center Wally Williams said of the Raiders, who kept shooting themselves in the foot.

They were guilty of 14 penalties, saw center Barret Robbins tossed out of the game for kicking Ray Lewis, watched a punt bounce off one of their players' helmets and gift-wrapped a touchdown for Rod Woodson with what quarterback Donald Hollas admitted was a "bonehead" throw.

The Ravens, who have self-destructed so many times, saw the other team do it this time.

The Ravens also avoided mistakes. They were guilty of only one turnover and three penalties. On top of that, Priest Holmes rushed for 99 yards and Michael McCrary, who terrorized rookie Mo Collins, had four sacks.

The Ravens may be showing why coach Ted Marchibroda said last week he would have liked to have played this year's schedule from the bottom up. The Ravens play the Chargers, Bengals, Colts and Oilers the next four games and only have one more game against a team likely to make the playoffs -- the Vikings.

"Anything's possible," Williams said.

It was a satisfying win for Marchibroda, the beleaguered coach who was as unflappable as ever.

"I didn't see any pressure or feel any pressure," he said.

In victory and defeat, Marchibroda remains on an even keel.

Highlights and lowlights of a victory the Ravens can savor: Turning point: With a minute left in the game, the Raiders had a second-and-three at their 40. McCrary then sacked Hollas for the fourth time, costing Oakland 10 critical yards and valuable time. The Raiders gained 30 more yards, but ran out of time before they could get close enough for a game-tying field goal.

Wasting a timeout: The Raiders pinned the Ravens back to their 1-yard line with a punt with 5: 55 to go in the third quarter on a fourth-and-10 play at the Ravens' 32. Before they punted, they lined up as if they were going for it and then called time. If they were going to punt, they could have taken a delay-of-game penalty. That lost timeout may have cost them the game when they couldn't stop the clock in the final minute.

Clutch drives: With the score tied at 10 in the fourth quarter, the Ravens marched 62 yards in eight plays to set up the game-winning field goal. They then got the ball back with 6: 38 left on their 23 and took almost five minutes off the clock before punting it back to the Raiders with 1: 45 left.

Harbaugh file: Quarterback Jim Harbaugh passed for only 102 yards, but he made the big plays when he had to, notably passes of 28 yards to Jermaine Lewis and 10 and 11 yards to Michael Jackson for critical first downs in the last two drives.

Running game: Since Holmes ran for 173 yards against Cincinnati, he had run for only 29, 76, 41 and 10 yards in the previous four games, and the Ravens lost them all. This time, he ran for 99, including a 25-yarder in the Ravens' fourth-quarter field-goal drive as they ended the four-game losing streak.

Noting the Ravens aren't the passing team they were two years ago, Williams said: "To be effective, we've got to go out there and run it. If our running game is stymied, it's going to be a long day for us."

Bonehead move: Raiders coach Jon Gruden's decision to start Jeff George was ill-advised. George lasted only one series before he had to leave after aggravating his groin injury. Hollas came in cold and his first pass was run back for a touchdown by Woodson. Hollas admitted he should have thrown the ball away.

Zebras: Replays showed that Hollas jumped over the pile and got the ball across the plane of the goal line for a touchdown in the second quarter, but the officials blew it, ruling no touchdown, and the Raiders had to settle for a field goal. Maybe Raiders boss Al Davis will now support instant replay.

More zebras: At the end of the game, the officials appeared befuddled when the Raiders initially lined up for a field-goal attempt and then pulled a switch and sent Hollas back on the field for a Hail Mary pass. The Ravens rushed their defense back onto the field and Duane Starks intercepted the desperation pass in the end zone. It was unclear whether the Ravens had 12 men on the field. The officials huddled after the last play and decided they didn't.

Red zone: The Ravens got into the red zone twice and came away with two field goals. That's the story of their season inside the opponent's 20. They now have been in the red zone 18 times in nine games and have scored only five touchdowns.

Home support: Although the Ravens only announce tickets sold (69,037), it was obvious from the empty seats that there were several thousand no-shows. But the fans who did show up only booed when they didn't like the calls. They were even noisy enough to cause some false-start penalties by the Raiders.

Good call: The fans booed when the Ravens ran the ball on third-and-17 from the Raiders' 17 with 37 seconds left in the first half after Eric Zeier came in when Harbaugh suffered a back bruise. But it would have been too risky to let Zeier throw cold on his first play and risk an interception. The Ravens wisely settled for a field goal in what turned out to be a three-point game.

Looking ahead: The Ravens next play at San Diego and at Cincinnati, games that could enable them to be 5-6 when they come home to play Indianapolis. "I don't think San Diego and Indianapolis and the rest of these teams are powerhouses. They're NFL teams, but they can be beaten if we play as a team and not as individuals," Williams said.

Pub Date: 11/09/98

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
54°