A Jag-ged rivalry for Ravens Jacksonville is natural for team's first enemy

November 24, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The last time the Ravens saw the Jacksonville Jaguars, receivers Andre Rison and Keenan McCardell were dancing at midfield two weeks ago celebrating the Jaguars' 30-27 win -- and taunting the Ravens.

"Yeah, I remember that," Ravens safety Vashone Adams said.

That was one of the latest incidents in what could be developing into the Ravens' first bona fide rivalry.

And this doesn't just go back to last season, when the Cleveland Browns lost two games to Jacksonville in the Jaguars' inaugural season.

How about the expansion derby in 1993, when Baltimore was snubbed by the NFL for the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville?

The Ravens (3-8) will meet Jacksonville (4-7) at 1 p.m. today at Memorial Stadium.

"I really don't know if we have one yet because it's our first year in Baltimore," linebacker Mike Caldwell said of a possible rivalry. "I don't know what it takes to form one, but it seems all the elements are there to get it started."

The last game was certainly heated, with the central figure being Rison, the former Falcon, Brown and Jaguar and current Packer, who referred to his Ravens teammates of a year ago as "jealous-head punks."

The Ravens read the paper on Sunday morning, prompting a lot of trash talk during the game and eventually leading to a brief team brawl in the end zone during the fourth period. There was also an episode in which Ravens receiver Michael Jackson threw the ball at a fan in the stands after catching a touchdown pass.

"There was a lot of big talk the last time, and it motivated a lot of people," Adams said. "Coaches and the players were excited. There will probably be a lot less this time because some people got fined and they aren't willing to give their money away."

McCardell says don't bet on it.

"I think the game will have the same intensity," said McCardell, who also played for the Browns last season. "Each game with us and Baltimore will probably be like that. There is going to be a lot of trash talking, but it's competitive trash talking, nothing bad."

The Jaguars had the final word last time, scoring two touchdowns in the final 6: 23. The Ravens had a 17-3 lead at the half.

After the game, the Ravens' locker room was extremely quiet, perhaps the worst after any loss this year. They haven't forgotten.

Rison is gone, waived by the Jaguars early last week, and picked up by Green Bay a day later. But the Ravens don't need any bulletin-board material from Rison to get them excited.

"Because of the way we lost at Jacksonville, we have some frustration," coach Ted Marchibroda said. "I look for a great effort by our players. We'll take it to them with everything we have, just like we did down there."

This Jacksonville game comes at a time when some injured Ravens are starting to heal. Center Steve Everitt, injured nearly a month ago with a partially torn pectoral muscle, may play, and possibly start, today.

Starting inside linebacker Ray Lewis, injured in the first quarter of the first game against Jacksonville, also may play today in a backup role after missing last week's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

"We'll see how he looks on tape," defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. "We think everything will be fine. If he is OK, we'll probably use him as a backup."

The Ravens will need to be at full strength defensively because the Jaguars bring the league's No. 1-ranked passing offense and No. 2 overall offense to town.

The Ravens were hurt just as much by the running of Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell in the last game.

"We've got to do a better job against Brunell than we did last time," said Marchibroda. "His running hurt us, especially late in the game. He did a good job of spreading the ball around and finding the receiver. The tight end [Pete] Mitchell hurt us, and they have good receivers with Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith."

But Jacksonville also has to find a way to slow the Ravens. Two weeks ago, quarterback Vinny Testaverde completed 17 of 27 )) passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Bam Morris ran for 109 yards before the offense and defense struggled in the final quarter.

"Two weeks ago, it was very satisfying coming back from an 11-point deficit with six minutes left," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said. "We've had some outstanding games with Cleveland/Baltimore. It's a very competitive situation."

Marchibroda said: "The loss in Jacksonville hurt so much because the players really went after them, and I expect that will happen again. It's not a matter of revenge. We need a win. The players need a reward for working so hard. We know we can play with them and they they can beat us. That makes for a good game."

Today's game

Jaguars (4-7) at Ravens (3-8)

Site: Memorial Stadium

Time: 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 11/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Line: Ravens by 3 1/2

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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