Misfortune continues to keep step with Langham Cornerback sidelined by pulled hamstring after determined first half

Ravens Notebook

November 04, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Mike Preston and Vito Stellino contributed to this article.

Antonio Langham's season could be summed up by the misfortune he suffered during yesterday's 24-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Langham, the Ravens' left cornerback, spent the first half of the season mired in a slump in which he surrendered a touchdown pass in all but one of the first eight games. Determined to turn his season around, Langham started anew yesterday, and early on, he showed that he meant business against Cincinnati's star receiver, Carl Pickens.

On the Bengals' second possession, they had moved into Ravens territory at the 42, when Langham broke up a deep sideline pass to Pickens on first down. Two Jeff Blake incompletions later, Cincinnati's drive stalled. Score one for Langham.

Later, midway through the second quarter with the Ravens leading 7-0, Langham broke up a third-down pass intended for Jeff Hill, forcing Cincinnati to settle for a 41-yard field goal. Throw in his three solo tackles, and Lang- ham played possibly his most inspired half of the season.

Then, his day ended abruptly in the third quarter. After a 4-yard run by Garrison Hearst, Langham pulled his right hamstring and had to leave the game. He would not return. It has been that kind of season for Langham.

"The first half of the season was so-so, but I told myself that the second half of the season was a chance for me to pick it back up again," Langham said. "I was ready to play, and things were going right out there."

Soon after the start of the game, Langham felt the hamstring tightening. Each time the defense came off the field in the first half, he tried to alleviate the discomfort by stretching on the sideline. But as the second half unfolded, he knew he could not continue, and would have to turn his left cornerback duties over to rookie DeRon Jenkins.

"I felt bad. Right after I came out, they [the Bengals] started going after him [Jenkins]. And they had stopped going to my side," Langham said.

"I was trying to play through it. I didn't want to come out of the game, but I had to."

Where's the run?

The Ravens' offensive linemen maintained a diplomatic stance when asked about the team's play-calling in the second half.

The Ravens ran the ball only six times after halftime, despite leading for nearly the entire game. They opened the second half on offense with an 18-point lead. Yet, even with 245-pound running back Bam Morris and a solid line eager to block for him, they passed eight straight times to open the half, two of which were nullified by penalties.

"I plead the fifth," said a grinning Jeff Blackshear, the right guard. "I'm not paid to say we should have done this or that. I'm paid to play football."

"I feel we should have been running, but I'm not second-guessing anything that was called. It's not my place to say," said left guard Jonathan Ogden. "We [the line] wanted to go to the ground more. But to operate as a team, we can't have any dissension, and we've got to do what we're supposed to do. If we weren't missing on so many passes, they wouldn't be talking about us not running."

Out of their hands

Vinny Testaverde made his share of mistakes, what with four interceptions and too many throws into tight coverage. But he wasn't helped by the dropped passes that plagued the Ravens' offense. Baltimore receivers dropped at least half a dozen catchable balls.

Derrick Alexander, who is enjoying the best season of his three-year career, had perhaps the most costly miscue of the day. With just over 10 minutes left and the Ravens clinging to a 21-18 lead, the team had driven 45 yards to the Cincinnati 15. On second down, Testaverde fired a pass to Alexander, who was streaking across the deep middle of the end zone.

The ball went through Alexander's hands. On the next play, Bengals cornerback Ashley Ambrose intercepted Testaverde in the end zone.

"I saw Michael [Jackson, fellow receiver] out of the corner of my eye, and I was thinking about a collision and whether the pass was going to him," said Alexander, who did go all-out for the catch. "I was more focused on staying inbounds than just going up and catching the ball."

Alexander summed up the loss by saying, "We scored 21 points in the first half, and we didn't do anything in the second half. To finish like that has got to be the low point of the season."

Making do on defense

Since losing end Rob Burnett and tackle Dan Footman to season-ending injuries three weeks ago -- after which they switched to a 3-4 defense -- the Ravens have grown accustomed to being thin on the defensive line.

They opened yesterday's game with six linemen, but lost end Mike Frederick early, after he aggravated the neck injury that forced him out of last week's game against St. Louis. On top of that, end Anthony Pleasant, whose sprained right ankle probably will need an off-season to heal properly, was in and out of the game.

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