Regardless of the situation, the Ravens seem determined to ride Jamal Lewis in the fourth quarter.
Down 18-0 at the start of the final quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday, the Ravens continued to run Lewis and did not stray far from their normal offense. Lewis rushed for 28 yards on seven carries, and the Ravens shunned a hurry-up attack until one minute was left in the eventual 25-0 loss.
"I wasn't surprised. I was just trying to make something happen," Lewis said. "That's my job. I think I blocked well this week, caught the ball well and I ran well. And I think that is a positive [compared to] last week."
Lewis finished with 53 yards on 17 carries, but his longest rush was for 8 yards. He suffered a minor rib injury in the first quarter and played through the injury after missing a couple of plays.
"I'm going to get that checked out, but as long as my knee is all right, I'm good," Lewis said.
Lewis said he needed the carries in the fourth quarter, though many might question their short-term worth.
"Throwing it every down would serve no purpose," coach Brian Billick said. "There came a point in the game where we were trying to do something positive, learn something from it. And Jamal needs the reps to get back into football shape. I don't think he carried it too many times.
"You don't concede the game, but it does no good to go in there, throw three passes and come out. This team is about learning, and I have to keep them in that mentality, as painful as that might be."
As expected, Buccaneers defensive tackles Anthony McFarland and Warren Sapp proved to be a handful for the Ravens.
McFarland beat left guard Casey Rabach for a 7-yard sack of Chris Redman on second-and-10 from the Ravens' 27 midway through the third quarter.
"That's the best there is in the league. All of them complement each other well," Rabach said.
Right guard Bennie Anderson drew Sapp much of the game, and said afterward that the normally talkative Pro Bowl player was quiet. Anderson helped hold Sapp to two tackles and two pressures.
"He didn't say nothing the whole game. Maybe since he cut off his hair, he cut off his attitude," Anderson said.
Redman wore black high-top shoes in honor of John Unitas.
"I really didn't ask [the NFL for permission]," Redman said. "I just went out and did it. It wasn't a media thing. It was a personal thing."
There is a good chance Redman will be fined for his action this week because the high tops didn't conform with the Ravens' cleats, as mandated by league rules.
Not getting the calls
The Ravens were hit with two illegal-contact penalties and a holding call during Tampa Bay's 17-play drive that took up more than half the second quarter.
With the team's youth on defense and the Buccaneers' skill at receiver, such calls came as no surprise to cornerback Gary Baxter. Receiver Keyshawn Johnson drew two of the penalties.
"Any time you deal with Pro Bowl receivers and you have some unproven cornerbacks, I think they are going to be a little lenient toward those guys -- give them some of the calls," Baxter said. "That's to be expected."
No go on Blake
Billick dismissed the idea of switching to quarterback Jeff Blake when his team was behind 13-0 at halftime. Blake has not played in either of the losses.
"Why? At that point in the game, you come back out and all you need is a score," Billick said. "Your mantra at halftime is, 'Score and you're one score down,' because our defense had kept them out of the end zone.
"If Chris Redman is going to progress and get an opportunity to play pro quarterback ... then taking him out would do no good."
The Ravens fumbled on the first offensive play of the second half, resulting in a safety.
A painful drop
Ravens tight end Todd Heap had a decent outing in his second start, but he was kicking himself over a dropped ball.
The second-year player caught three passes for 20 yards. For the season, he has eight receptions for 40 yards, ranking him third on the team in receptions behind wide receiver Brandon Stokley (10 catches) and Lewis (nine).
But Heap committed a cardinal sin when he dropped a pass from Redman inside the Buccaneers' 40-yard line with no one within at least 7 yards.
"The one drop, I can't have that," Heap said. "That's something I don't do very much. When it does happen, I have to focus more and not let that happen."
Heap said he earned a playful ultimatum from Billick when he came off the field after the series that ended in a punt.
"That's my drop for the year," Heap said. "That's what Coach told me. I only get one. Now I've got to go and make every play from here. For me, that's just unacceptable. I should never drop a ball."
C. Taylor gets in
It took four full quarters and more than 13 minutes of another, but Ravens rookie running back Chester Taylor got his first NFL carry.
With team trainers examining Lewis' ribs with less than two minutes left in the first quarter, the sixth-round pick out of Toledo got the call to be the primary tailback.
Taylor's first carry was a 1-yard gain on second-and-two at the Ravens' 33-yard line, a play on which Sapp body-slammed him to the ground, resulting in a personal foul and a first down.
"It was pretty exciting," said Taylor, who gained another yard on the ensuing play for his only two carries of the day. "It was a dream come true, but we didn't get the win. So we have to get back at it at practice and look forward to Monday night against Denver."
Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson said his offensive line, considered the weakest aspect of Tampa Bay's team, "really dominated today."
"The front really gave me a lot of pass protection," said Johnson, who was sacked only once. "I got hurried a couple of times and threw it away. But for the most part, I felt very comfortable back there in the pocket."
Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman wore Unitas' No. 19 Colts jersey after the game.
"It's my appreciation to the guy. I just wanted to show that," he said. "Johnny Unitas led the way for everybody. I wanted to say thanks."
Sun staff writers Edward Lee and Lem Satterfield contributed to this article.