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Billick red-faced after blue streak; Coach's family lectures him for cursing on sideline

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Brian Billick has an image of being a high-tech coach when it comes to using state-of-the-art computers in his coaching techniques.

But when it comes to screaming on the sideline, the Ravens' coach is strictly old school.

He could have done Mike Ditka proud with his use of blue language during some of his sideline tirades Sunday in the overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons, notably when Matt Stover missed a second-quarter field-goal attempt.

Billick, though, is in no danger of becoming Iron Brian. He said he's going to reform after being lectured by his mother, wife and one of his daughters after the game Sunday.

"It was a short-lived win for me. As soon as I got from the locker room to the bus, I called my mother as I normally do and got a 15-minute butt-chewing for my foul language on the sidelines. I then got home to that refuge I go to and had my wife ream me for a good half-hour, followed by my 10-year-old daughter," he said.

He then announced his new policy.

"So henceforth, I'm counting on you guys to be the guardians of the faith here. Anytime I'm caught using [certain obscenities] on camera, it's going to cost me $100. It goes to the United Way fund. So we'll see if I can clean that up and find some other euphemisms to convey the same point," he said.

As an offensive coordinator in Minnesota, Billick said he could detach himself from the game in between series and not pay much attention to what the defense was doing.

"Now I can't do that. I'm more involved. It draws me into the game a little more emotionally. It's tougher for me to separate myself. It'll be interesting to see [if he can stop the sideline outbursts] because you've taken away my release mechanisms. I get it out of my system and I move on and I'm fine. But I'm not going to cross my mother," he said.

Kicking woes

That $100 Billick plans to shell out to the United Way will add up if Stover keeps kicking off out of bounds and missing field-goal attempts.

After his miss on a 38-yard attempt Sunday, Stover chose to walk past Billick -- exchanging glares and a few choice words.

"I understood exactly where he came from," Stover said. "He's an intense coach. That's the way he goes about doing his job. As long as I understand that, it's not only me, and everybody gets a piece of it. I deserved it. This team needs every field goal it can kick. I look at him and I say, 'Yes sir.' He knows I'm better than that."

How much better is the question? Billick decided against a 49-yard attempt early in the third quarter that would have tied the game at 6. Instead, Kyle Richardson sent a punt into the end zone for a touchback.

"I've got confidence in my assessment of what [Stover's] abilities are. My decisions are based on that as we go from one situation to the next," Billick said.

Johnson fine likely

Billick predicted that wide receiver Patrick Johnson would be fined $2,500 by the league for taunting Ray Buchanan with a dance after his touchdown reception. Buchanan was then ejected for body-slamming and punching Johnson.

"That was totally uncalled-for on Patrick's part," Billick said. "The Tasmanian Devil gets away from himself sometimes. He knows it was wrong. He's going to know it's wrong when they hit his pocketbook. I'm confident that Gene Washington [the league official who levies fines] will fine Patrick and it will be a well-deserved fine. There's no place in the game for this. I imagine that's the last time you'll see that from Patrick."

Billick added with a smile: "Besides, it was an ugly dance. My gosh, to give up $2,500 for that."

Woodson improving

Rod Woodson missed a tackle on Jammi German's 30-yard touchdown run with a shovel pass and got a pair of penalties that set up an Atlanta field goal, but Billick said he was improving every week in his transition from cornerback to safety.

Said Woodson: "I'm still learning. There's definitely a learning curve. When you get an opportunity to make plays, you've got make them. That [missed tackle] was one of the plays I should have made."

On the 15-yard penalty he got for an out-of-bounds hit, he said, "He [the official] thought I threw an elbow at him, which I didn't. They make the calls. We play."

Woodson also gave Morten Anderson a second shot at a second-quarter field goal when he jumped offside.

Snap judgment

For the second straight game, one of Jeff Mitchell's snaps on the shotgun went awry.

"He's got a little too much heat on it," Billick said. "We've got to get him to fluff it back there a little bit. If we continue to have a problem, we'll have to dump it. But right now, it's something the quarterback is comfortable with. We've dodged a couple of bullets. Hopefully, we'll get better at it because he [quarterback Stoney Case] likes it."

Said Mitchell: "I know I can make it work. I need to get my technique so it's more consistent."

Upon further review

The league disagreed with the Ravens on their interpretation of two controversial plays involving the opposing quarterbacks in the second and third games. They backed the officials on both calls.

They ruled that Pittsburgh's Kordell Stewart wasn't in the end zone when the Ravens tackled him two weeks ago. They also ruled that Tim Couch's entire body wasn't over the line of scrimmage last week when he threw a pass that set up a Cleveland touchdown.

Sharper raises his game

Four games into his third season, linebacker Jamie Sharper said he is playing the best football of his career.

That might be scary for the running backs facing the Ravens this season, considering Sharper is playing at the Pro Bowl level of his fellow starting linebackers.

Sharper is second on the team in tackles with 32, which is 24 behind Ray Lewis. He has 24 solo tackles and one pass defensed.

"I'm definitely playing my best ball since I've been in the league," Sharper said. "Mainly because [linebackers coach] Jack Del Rio has helped me out, and I've been in this defense for three years."

Sharper had seven tackles Sunday, second behind Lewis' 12.

J. Lewis off to rough start

The signs were there during training camp when Billick refused to say Jermaine Lewis was his go-to wide receiver.

So far, that designation has gone to Qadry Ismail, who has 16 catches for 213 yards.

Through four games, Lewis has eight catches for 77 yards and no touchdowns.

He watched Johnson and Justin Armour streak into the end zone from for 52 and 54 yards out, respectively, Sunday.

"Offensively, we've got to put him in any situation we can to be productive," Billick said. "But we're running the ball well. We've got a number of receivers that are catching the ball well. I can't, unless I think it's going to help us in a specific situation, simply shove the ball toward Jermaine to try and rack up a certain amount of catches or productivity."

Sun staff writer Brent Jones contributed to this article.

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