Costly plays get Ravens' attention But comeback effort pleases Marchibroda

August 19, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda was in his office yesterday running the plays over and over again on videotape, and talking about what could have been.

Instead, he still was dealing with Saturday's 17-15 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Memorial Stadium, the team's first defeat of the preseason.

The Packers' Richie Cunningham kicked a 42-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to ruin the Ravens' comeback. The rally seemed complete when Eric Zeier completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ray Ethridge, giving the Ravens a 15-14 lead with 1: 06 left.

"Overall, it hurts," said Marchibroda, who is expected to make his first cut down to 60 players today. "A win would have left our team on a high note. But I was happy with our intensity and our comeback. We fought hard and had an excellent chance to win."

One play in particular still was disturbing. With 16 seconds left, Ravens defensive backs Donny Brady and Bennie Thompson sandwiched receiver Derrick Mayes on a pass attempt, jarring the ball loose, and the Ravens recovered.

The pass later was ruled incomplete, setting the stage for Cunningham.

"Ah, looks like a fumble to me," said Marchibroda, replaying it for the umpteenth time.

There were several other plays that proved costly to the Ravens. On their first possession, the Ravens went from the 28 to the Green Bay 29. But on third-and-seven, an illegal-procedure penalty against offensive tackle Orlando Brown nullified a 14-yard reception by Derrick Alexander, and quarterback Vinny Testaverde threw incomplete to Alexander on the next play.

On their next possession, the Ravens went from their 26 to the Green Bay 36. But on third-and-nine, rookie receiver James Roe's reception to the 1 was disallowed because he stepped out of bounds during the route.

It got worse for the Ravens' starters, who played only a half. The next mistake occurred with 7: 46 left in the half. Testaverde, under pressure from defensive lineman Gilbert Brown, fumbled as he was sacked at the Green Bay 22, and the Packers' Sean Jones recovered.

Nearly three minutes later, Testaverde, from the Packers' 19, underthrew tight end Frank Hartley across the middle at the 12, and linebacker George Koonce intercepted.

Marchibroda had no problems with the interception, but said Testaverde needs to protect the ball better. Testaverde, who completed seven of 15 passes for 77 yards, lost a fumble the week before in a similar situation against the New York Giants.

"With Vinny, I suspect he has escaped a great deal of the time running that way," said Marchibroda. "It's something we can work on. As for the interception, he just underthrew Frank. The week before, though, it wasn't Vinny's fault. The receiver should have done something to help him going across the middle."

Zeier had his most impressive preseason outing, completing 14 of 21 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. "He showed some poise," said Marchibroda.

So did Ethridge, who may have made the roster with five receptions for 68 yards. And the Ravens probably will try to put rookie running back Derrick Cullors, who had 31 yards rushing on four carries, on the developmental squad along with Roe (two catches for 13 yards).

Reserve safety and special-teams captain Bennie Thompson was outstanding in the secondary, and Hartley threw some crunching blocks along with the offensive line, which turned in another creditable job.

But the Ravens still are in the market for a running back, tight end and cornerback. Ravens vice president Ozzie Newsome has expressed interest in former Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Green, who is out with a knee injury, but is expected to be ready by the third or fourth game of the season.

The Ravens are only $62,000 under the salary cap, but Green could be a a bargain.

"We're not looking to break the bank," said Drew Rosenhaus, Green's agent. "Eric has something to prove, that [Miami coach] Jimmy Johnson was wrong by cutting him."

The Ravens also have expressed interest in Arizona Cardinals running back Garrison Hearst if he gets released today, but the team won't come close to paying Hearst the $2.1 million he was expected to make this season.

However, the Ravens aren't that disappointed with their running-back situation. The Ravens had 131 yards rushing against Green Bay on 33 attempts.

"It's a situation where we're going to have to use all four [halfbacks Leroy Hoard, Earnest Byner and Earnest Hunter and fullback Carwell Gardner] because we don't have a dominant back, but we had some nice yardage against Green Bay," said Marchibroda.

The Ravens will scan the waiver lists looking for a cornerback, and Marchibroda wants a better job out of his special teams. The kickoff team allowed three returns for 104 yards, and punter Greg Montgomery averaged only 32.3 yards on seven punts.

NOTES: The Ravens came out of Saturday's game pretty healthy. Only Roe (calf) and reserve outside linebacker Craig Powell (sprained neck) are questionable for Friday's final preseason game against Buffalo. Hoard, offensive tackle Tony Jones and Hartley suffered knee sprains, but they are expected to practice this week. . . . At the Cleveland Indians' game at Jacobs Field yesterday, the crowd cheered loudly for the Packers during video highlights of the victory over the Ravens.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Buffalo Bills

Site: Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y.

When: 7: 30 p.m. Friday

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

Pub Date: 8/19/96

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