Lewis atones for fumble with TD return Former Terp seals victory with 75-yard revenge run

August 04, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston | Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The play will not count in the NFL record books, but it will always count in the mind of Jermaine Lewis.

When the Ravens drafted Lewis out of the University of Maryland in the fifth round in April, they envisioned a punt- and kick-returning threat who could cause damage the way he did in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Lewis returned the favor for the first time late in the fourth quarter, when he returned a punt 75 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown to seal the Ravens' 17-9 victory over Philadelphia.

Not only did Lewis electrify the remaining fans with some of the most impressive speed on the field, but he also atoned for a mistake he made earlier, when he muffed a punt deep in Ravens territory. The Eagles, who recovered the fumble, were penalized on the play, negating Lewis' error. But vindication was on his mind.

"The way my night was going, I needed that. I started out slow. I was nervous," said Lewis, who credited his blockers for the touchdown play that followed. "I just turned it upfield a little bit, tried to set my blocks up like the coaches want me to, and my teammates made some great blocks. I just ran hard after that."

Just what was needed

The way Michael Jackson remembered it, time was running out and he had to make a big play. The first half was winding down, the veterans were about to be benched for the night and the Ravens were trailing 3-0.

That's when Jackson beat Eagles cornerback Jerome Henderson in man-to-man coverage, then hauled in a perfectly thrown 31-yard touchdown pass from Vinny Testaverde.

"It was a play that we needed. We were in a TV timeout, and we talked about it in the huddle," Jackson said. "I wanted to be that person, the opportunity presented itself, and we took advantage of it. I knew I was going to beat him [Henderson]."

Comfortable feeling

It was only a test run, but Testaverde looked comfortable in Ted Marchibroda's new offense, especially in the second quarter, when he completed eight of nine passes for 112 yards, including the touchdown toss to Jackson. Testaverde even rolled out impressively a few times, buying time to find open receivers.

"The rollouts were not by design," said a smiling Testaverde, not known for his fleet feet. "I just wanted to go out and run the offense and feel comfortable in a live situation. Things are going well in practice. And the way you work in practice is the way you're going to work on the field."

Rhodes frets

The Eagles' Ray Rhodes was not happy with his team's loss, and the intense, emotional coach plans to let his team know it.

"I'm not going to make any excuses for the players or the coaches. We played terrible," said Rhodes. "Our offense was down on their side of the field a number of times and all we came away with was a field goal. From a special teams standpoint, I can't say how screwed up it was.

"I don't want to have a repeat of last year. It was a Keystone [Kops] comedy demonstration by our players. What am I going to do about it? I'm going to go back to work Monday and kick butt."

With flying colors

Rookie middle linebacker Ray Lewis passed his audition impressively. He recorded seven tackles, including five solos, and a sack. He had two tackles in the opening minutes, and there wasn't a more emotional player on the field.

"I just came in and tried to do my business, just play sound, hard-nosed football," Lewis said. "When I step on the field, the rookie thing is behind me. When you come into the NFL, you have to respect the league. But a football game is a football game."

Not ready for prime time

Owner Art Modell joined announcers Tom Davis and Paul Maguire on the Channel 54 telecast during the third quarter. While Modell was on the air, quarterback Eric Zeier was sacked. Modell apparently forgot that he was wearing a microphone; he reacted with an expletive that was heard on the air. Shortly thereafter, he uttered a profanity while joking about the broadcast.

Booting butterflies

First-round draft choice Jonathan Ogden said he had a few butterflies before his NFL debut.

"Come game time, you have to forget where you're at and play football," Ogden said. "The anticipation is more than playing the game itself."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: New York Giants

Date: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Site: Giants Stadium

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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