Mistakes doom Ravens, again

The Baltimore Sun

A familiar foe returned to haunt the Ravens: turnovers.

A week after avoiding turnovers in a near-upset of the New England Patriots, the Ravens failed to protect the ball, contributing largely to the team's 44-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at M&T; Bank Stadium last night.

Indianapolis converted three Ravens miscues into touchdowns and added a safety off a blocked punt. Two of the turnovers occurred on the Ravens' first two possessions, and the Colts capitalized, turning a 7-0 lead into a 21-0 advantage.

"It's the same old scenario," coach Brian Billick said. "You can't win if you turn the ball over against a team, any team, let alone a team like that."

The Ravens, who tied a franchise record for fewest turnovers in a season with 23 in 2006, now lead the league in giveaways, turning the ball over 35 times.

The team added to its league-worst 22 fumbles when Indianapolis defensive end Robert Mathis stripped running back Willis McGahee at the Ravens' 31-yard line on the offense's first series. Two plays later, Colts running back Joseph Addai sauntered in from a yard out for the touchdown.

On the Ravens' ensuing possession, linebacker Gary Brackett stepped in front of a Kyle Boller pass to wide receiver Derrick Mason on a slant route and returned the ball to the Ravens' 19. Indianapolis needed only one play for quarterback Peyton Manning to connect with Addai, who ran into the end zone untouched.

Boller was sacked and stripped to begin the third quarter, and Manning hit wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez on a 40-yard scoring strike two plays later.

Figurs makes history

Thirteen games into his rookie season, Yamon Figurs became the first player in franchise history to return a kickoff and punt for touchdowns in the same season.

Figurs, who had returned a punt 75 yards for a score against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3, completed the feat when he returned a kickoff 94 yards in the second quarter of last night's loss.

"Everybody expected me to come in here and compete right away," Figurs said. "So I was expected to do that."

Rolle takes a seat

Samari Rolle was kept on the sidelines for last night's game due to a shoulder injury that will require magnetic resonance imaging later today.

The cornerback was limited in practice last week, but was thought to be ready to play against Indianapolis. But a team spokesman said that Rolle realized that he couldn't play during warm-ups and the team's medical staff opted to sit him down.

"They thought they could do something about it, but it just wasn't going to hold up," Billick said. "They did the prudent thing in him not going."

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will also undergo an MRI on his left knee, which he injured while tackling Addai on the fourth play of the game. Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden tweaked his hamstring.

Cornerback Chris McAlister (strained right knee) and tight end Todd Heap (strained hamstring) were deactivated by the team before the game. McAlister, who sat out his fifth game in the last seven games, did not practice last week.

Heap, whom the team described as being limited last week, missed his sixth game in the past seven. Daniel Wilcox, who played last week for the first time in eight weeks after being sidelined with a sprained toe, started for Heap.

The Ravens also deactivated defensive tackle Justin Bannan (sprained knee), wide receiver Demetrius Williams (high ankle sprain), safety Gerome Sapp (hamstring), offensive tackle Jared Gaither, running back Cory Ross and linebacker Edgar Jones.

McGahee struggles

A week after posting a season high in rushing, McGahee compiled a season low. The running back was held to just 45 yards, which was 5 yards shy of his previous season low against the Pittsburgh Steelers five weeks ago. McGahee also had his streak of consecutive games with a rushing touchdown stopped at seven.

"We just have to keep focused even though we got down quick like that," McGahee said. "It didn't go as planned."

T. Smith's debut TD

Troy Smith's debut ended with six points, as the rookie quarterback managed a seven-play, 41-yard drive culminating in a 6-yard scramble for a touchdown with 1:05 left in the game.

Asked if he was nervous, Smith said, "No. Moreso anxious. Very, very anxious to get my hands on the leather and try to put some points on the board."

Neuheisel's interview

A team spokesman confirmed a report from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution saying that Ravens offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at Georgia Tech.

In Saturday's editions, the newspaper reported that Neuheisel, one of eight men interviewed for the job, met with the school's search committee at a hotel in Jacksonville, Fla., the day before the Ravens' Monday night game against the New England Patriots.

The school eventually reached an agreement with Navy coach Paul Johnson, who was introduced as the Yellow Jackets' head coach Friday.

Neuheisel was unavailable to comment after last night's game.


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