CINCINNATI -- Not that Roosevelt Potts had forgotten what the end zone felt like. But, before yesterday, three years had passed since the Ravens fullback had tasted pay dirt.
The drought ended officially with 9: 34 remaining in the first quarter. On a second-and-six play from the Bengals' 12, Potts slid out of the backfield and across the middle to his left, where quarterback Jim Harbaugh found him inside the 5. Potts fell down after making the catch, then crawled into the end zone untouched to give the Ravens a 7-0 lead.
Potts earned no style points, but the drought was dead.
Before yesterday, the last time Potts had scored a touchdown came on Nov. 12, 1995, when he was playing in New Orleans as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
"I'm just glad they called my number. They [the coaches] talked about using me down there, and it was nice getting into the end zone," Potts said. "We caught them in a blitz, and [tight end] Eric Green blocked the guy that was supposed to be covering me."
Potts hasn't exactly lived in the end zone during his six-year career as a blocking back. Yesterday marked just the fourth touchdown of his career, which includes a missed year in 1996, when Potts sat out the season after being suspended by the NFL for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Harbaugh congratulated Potts coming off the field after the play yesterday. Harbaugh remembered Potts' last score vividly. He was the quarterback who dumped a short pass to Potts that day against the Saints, then watched him weave his way downfield for a 40-yard touchdown.
"That was a great play. He turned a short pass into a long touchdown," Harbaugh said. "He kind of stumbled there [yesterday]. I told him, 'Good job. It's been a long time.' "
"It's been a long season for me," said Potts, who signed a one-year, $600,000 contract last spring. "A lot of things haven't gone my way this year. A lot of us can play better than we've played. When I came in, I thought I was going to run, block and catch. We haven't executed as well as we should."
Potts had one of his better overall blocking games of the year yesterday, as he led tailback Priest Holmes through numerous holes en route to Holmes' record-setting day.
"I like Rosey," Holmes said. "He's a veteran. He's always telling me, 'Stay with me.' He always has an opinion in the huddle."
Potts also had his forgettable moments yesterday. Several times, he was stuffed while trying to block for Holmes. He also made two glaring mistakes that could have cost the Ravens dearly.
Potts should have recorded the first multiple-touchdown game of his career. But he dropped a pass in the left flat early in the second quarter, with the Ravens trying to build on their 7-0 advantage. On a second-and-10 from the Bengals' 11, Harbaugh lofted a pass over the raised arms of a Bengals lineman. Potts reached high but had the ball glance off his hand at the 5 for an incompletion.
"It went right through [the defender's] hands and was probably tough for Rosey to see. It would have been a great catch," Harbaugh said.
"I catch that pass every day in practice," Potts said. "The ball touched my hand. If you're a professional and the ball touches your hand, you're supposed to make the catch."
Potts committed his next miscue midway through the third quarter, with the Ravens trying to build on a 17-6 lead while driving at the Bengals' 42. Potts took a handoff, dived into the Bengals line and lost the ball.
Linebacker Brian Simmons picked up the fumble and returned it 22 yards to the Ravens' 36. The Ravens' defense bailed out Potts by forcing a Cincinnati punt.
Pub Date: 11/23/98