Lewis return in style Ex-Terp's 75-yard TD pulls plug on Eagles in electrifying debut

NFL, J.

September 01, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The sneak preview was successful, both on the field and at the gate.

The Ravens defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 17-9, on Aug. 3, in the first NFL game played in this city involving a Baltimore team in 13 years.

Jermaine Lewis, a rookie receiver out of the University of Maryland, ended the emotional night with a 75-yard punt return down the left sideline with 2: 08 left in the game to secure the

win.

The Ravens played in front of 63,804, the largest crowd to see an NFL game in Baltimore. The previous mark was 61,479 set in 1983, the same year the Colts left Baltimore for Indianapolis.

"I think it was a great win for the Ravens," said coach Ted Marchibroda. "There was a full house and there was electricity in the air. We had a contribution from every part of our team. The thing that pleased me most was that we didn't forget to fight back, and we gave the fans something to come back for."

The Ravens' first-string, which played the first half, showed some guts and promise.

Quarterback Vinny Testaverde was impressive in the two quarters, completing 11 of 14 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Michael Jackson also put on a show (( with four receptions for 83 yards.

And those two first-round picks? Top rookie and offensive guard Jonathan Ogden was impressive with his pass protection, but his run blocking seemed a little suspect.

As for rookie linebacker Ray Lewis, well, don't expect anyone to be mentioning Pepper Johnson's name this week. Lewis was physical and emotional, even registering his first NFL sack in the third period. Lewis finished with seven tackles before leaving the game early in the third quarter.

"I made some mistakes, but I made some good plays, too," Ogden said. "I thought I handled myself pretty well for playing in my first game."

Lewis said: "With the plays I made, there are a lot of other plays I could have made. I know I have a long way to go."

The Ravens also will need to make some adjustments in their running game, which netted only 44 yards, 25 in the first half with the starters, and possibly find another cornerback to pair with starter Antonio Langham.

Part of the problem with the running attack was that the Eagles were crowding the line of scrimmage with eight players, and the Ravens didn't deviate from their game plan.

"We were just trying to work some things out, but I'm sure if we played them during the regular season, we would be throwing more on first and second down to get them out of the box," said left tackle Tony Jones. "They kept bringing their safeties up, but we'll get our running game together."

The Eagles scored on their first possession of the second half, going 48 yards in 12 plays as Gary Anderson kicked a third field goal of 41 yards to cut the Ravens' lead to 10-9 with 7: 54 left in the third period.

Philadelphia had a good balance of pass and run during the drive, but Ty Detmer's completed pass to Freddie Solomon on third-and-seven from the Ravens' 27 was 3 yards short of the first down, forcing Anderson on the field.

But Lewis later ended any thought of a comeback with his punt return. Lewis took the ball, started to his right and then darted to his left. He got a great block from fullback Richard Thomas on Derrick Witherspoon to burst through the wedge, and then turned on his sprinter's speed for the touchdown.

"That's what we brought Jermaine in for, to break a couple of punts and kickoffs," said Marchibroda.

Lewis said: "I have to thank my blockers; they set me up real good. I needed it, the way my day was going [he muffed a punt earlier, the Eagles recovering]. I definitely needed it."

The Ravens took a 10-6 lead into the half thanks to two goal-line stands and some nifty passing from Testaverde to Jackson.

dTC Testaverde led the Ravens on the final drive of the half, going from the Ravens' 31 with 1: 40 left in the half to the Eagles' 14.

Testaverde completed passes of 12, 17, 17, 3 and 2 yards during the drive, but his last pass fell short to wide receiver James Roe on a third-and-two at the 14 with 29 seconds remaining. But Matt Stover kicked a 32-yard field goal three seconds later to complete the seven-play drive and give the Ravens a 10-6 lead at the half.

"I thought Vinny had a great game, Michael Jackson had a great game and Ray Lewis played well," Marchibroda said. "I'm not sure Vinny can play much better."

Ravens 17, Eagles 9

Philadelphia 0 . 6 . 3 . 0 - 9

Ravens ......0 . 10 .0 . 7 - 17

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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