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1st-half mistakes on special teams turn Ravens' tide

Ravens return specialist Lamont Brightful seemed to have knocked off much of the rust from an injury-riddled preseason in last night's 30-24 loss to the New York Giants at M&T; Bank Stadium. His fellow special teams players, however, looked as if they were attempting to make the NFL's blooper highlights.

Despite building a 10-0 lead in a near-perfect first quarter offensively and defensively, the Ravens committed four turnovers and allowed 20 points in the half, most because of special teams play.

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Brightful was the only bright spot, with punt returns of 16 and 19 yards on his two attempts.

"That was my second game back, and everybody needs a few games to get a groove back," he said. "I felt a lot better than in D.C. [in Saturday night's loss to the Washington Redskins]."

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Ryan Brewer replaced Brightful in the second quarter, and his fumble near the Giants' sideline at the Ravens' 38 (recovered by receiver David Tyree) was the second botched punt return.

A punt bounced off cornerback Airabin Justin's foot while he was trying to block on New York's previous possession, but the Giants subsequently turned the ball over.

"Those kids have to be a lot sharper," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Those young guys fighting for a [roster] spot have to show a little more focus."

The Ravens' next two miscues were more costly. Matt Bryant's kickoff - after the Giants turned Brewer's turnover into a field goal - took an awkward bounce on the artificial turf. After hesitating, Chester Taylor attempted to pick up the ball but was hit and fumbled at the Ravens' 16.

New York scored its first touchdown five plays later to cut the Ravens' lead to 17-10.

Chris Redman fumbled the snap from Casey Rabach on the Ravens' next possession, and the Giants converted that turnover into a 34-yard field goal.

The Ravens failed to pick up a first down their next possession, and Dave Zastudil's punt was nearly blocked after the team had just 10 men on the field. New York took over on the Ravens' 32, then scored on Jesse Palmer's 5-yard scramble to go up 20-17 at halftime.

Reed creates havoc

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It was a quiet night at safety for Ed Reed, so he took to creating havoc on special teams.

Reed played the first three series - all three-and-outs - and did not record a tackle or break up a pass. He did draw two holding penalties while rushing Giants punter Jeff Feagles.

Reed used a variety of swim moves to beat Giants fullback Jim Finn. He would have blocked both punts if Finn had not tackled him both times.

"Blocking punts, that is something I do," Reed said. "I have a lot of abilities I'm blessed with."

Close call for Suggs

Ravens first-round pick Terrell Suggs came close to making a game-changing play in the third quarter.

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Suggs nearly intercepted Giants quarterback Jason Garrett in the third quarter deep in Ravens territory and had nobody standing between him and the end zone. The Ravens were down by a field goal at that point.

The ball bounced off his hands, but Suggs is not sure he would have had the gas to make it to the end zone anyway.

"I told my teammates I was probably going to have to lateral it," Suggs said.

Injury update

Cornerbacks Tom Knight (hamstring) and Alvin Porter (groin), receiver Frank Sanders (toes) and running back Musa Smith (knee) did not play. Marcus Robinson started in place of Sanders, and Will Demps played in nickel (five defensive backs) situations.

Fullback Harold Morrow left in the second quarter with a cut on his right forearm. Receiver Randy Hymes injured his knee and had to be carted off after Giants safety Ryan Clark crashed into him on a kickoff with less than three minutes left. Hymes sprained the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

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Rabach sprained his knee and ankle in the third quarter, and guard Jim Jones sprained his right knee in the fourth.

Of all the injuries, Hymes' is the most serious.

End zone

Defensive end Joe Salave'a recorded the Ravens' only sack with just under two minutes left in the first half. ... Ravens kickoff specialist Wade Richey sent his first-half kicks to the 2-, 3-, 13- and 1-yard lines. ... Linebacker Johnny Rutledge made his first significant contributions since signing with the Ravens during the last week of training camp. Rutledge's second-quarter hit on Ron Dayne caused a fumble, which Justin recovered. Rutledge also had four tackles in the first half and stuffed a third-and-one on the Giants' first possession of the second. ... Giants tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (Morgan State) recorded one first-half catch, converting a fourth-down play.


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