Ottawa grounds passing game of Ham

CFLS NOTEBOOK

September 26, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

OTTAWA -- The Baltimore CFLs' offense was rendered one-dimensional yesterday when the passing game went underground.

Faced with man-to-man matchups and a blitzing Ottawa Rough Riders' defense, Baltimore quarterback Tracy Ham threw for a season-low 142 yards and endured a season-high three sacks.

"The main thing is, we won the game, as bad as we played offensively," Ham said after the CFLs pulled out a 42-27 victory before a crowd of 20,764 at Frank Clair Stadium.

Ham completed 12 of 29 passes, and threw for a touchdown, a 12-yard slant to Chris Armstrong. His favorite target was running back Mike Pringle, who had five catches for 63 yards to go with his 176 rushing yards.

"You have to give credit to Ottawa," Baltimore coach Don Matthews said. "[But] we're not getting the ball to the wide-outs and [receivers] need to get off the bump-and-run cover better. . . . Offensively, we need to be better than that."

Ottawa out-gained Baltimore in total offense, 328-279, as quarterback Danny Barrett threw for 306 yards with one interception.

"Ottawa did a good job of getting in my face," Ham said. "We've got to get better recognition of what they're doing."

For Ham's sake, preferably before next Saturday night's rematch with the Rough Riders.

The danger zone

For the second straight week, Charlie Baumann missed a 22-yard field-goal attempt -- leaving open, if not tenuous, his job security.

Baumann was signed two weeks ago after a missed 21-yard field-goal attempt resulted in Donald Igwebuike's losing his job.

Baumann has made six of 10 kicks since coming in, including four of seven yesterday. He hit from 45, 37, 33 and 41 yards. His misses were from 22, 34 and 36. He also averaged 58.9 for eight kickoffs.

Matthews was in no mood to discuss Baumann's performance. "I don't have anything to say about it," he said. "It'll work itself out."

Kicking hurt

The CFLs got a gritty performance from left-footed punter Josh Miller, who sprained his right foot retrieving a high snap from Scott Miller in the second quarter.

Miller recovered the loose ball on his own 10, but was immediately tackled by Dean Noel and thrown down -- on the ankle. Ottawa scored a touchdown on the ensuing series. Miller limped off the field, but did not miss a punt, finishing with an average of 42.8 on six kicks. Baumann would have replaced him if Miller could not have punted.

The cleanup man

The defensive play of the game was rush end Elfrid Payton's first-quarter sack of Barrett that resulted in a fumble at the Ottawa 35. When Baltimore's O. J. Brigance fumbled the ball back toward the Ottawa goal line, Payton recovered it at the 4 to set up a touchdown.

Flags galore

The CFLs were called for 15 penalties for 134 yards, the third time in the past six games they've hit double figures. "Sometimes we have to play 15 guys at a time," Matthews said.

Several of those penalties came on punt returns by Lester Smith, who had a 70-yard return wiped out on the game's first series. Smith also had a 53-yarder at the end of the half to set up a field goal.

Audibles

At least six Baltimore players came down with flu-like symptoms before the game. The worst was free safety Michael Brooks, who played with a 100-degree fever. "Sometimes I didn't think I'd make it," he said. "But my teammates spared me on special teams plays." . . . . Team physician Dr. Kenneth Gertsen was a no-show when his flight from BWI was canceled yesterday morning. . . . The CFLs, a league-best 6-1 on the road, play four of the last six games at home, where they're 2-3.

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