Going-down Ravens find elevator that fits whole team

November 25, 1996|By KEN ROSENTHAL

Five Ravens coaches got stuck inside an elevator at Memorial Stadium yesterday. With any luck, next time it will be the entire team.

That's right, put 'em all in an elevator.

Put 'em in, shut the doors and leave them there until the end of this ridiculous season.

Who cares that the Ravens are 3-9?

The elevator represents hope.

It runs from the Orioles' old offices to the upper deck. The capacity is 2,500 pounds -- about enough to hold the Ravens' starting defense.

Five years ago, Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser invented "The Bandwagon" for the Redskins' Super Bowl run.

We've got "The Elevator."

Just like the team, it only goes down.

Better build that new stadium fast, or Art Modell might get restless. Then again, if he knows what's good for him, he'll ride this elevator straight to the top.

No one would say it after yesterday's 28-25 overtime defeat, but the cranky Otis is now the Ravens' secret weapon.

Heck, they did better with their offensive and defensive signal-callers trapped than they did after the braintrust returned.

The elevator stalled as the Ravens assistants and two Jacksonville counterparts were trying to return to the press box from their respective locker rooms at the end of halftime.

They are listed as doubtful for next week with claustrophobia.

Actually, the whole thing was quite dramatic.

The coaches got hoisted through an 18-inch space after the elevator doors were pried open, then raced up a stadium ramp with a police escort.

In all, they missed the first 8 minutes, 10 seconds of the third quarter before reuniting with their beloved headsets.

Here's the only post-halftime statistic that matters:

Without coaches: Ravens, 6-0.

With coaches: Jaguars, 18-3.

Thus, the first blame for yesterday's collapse goes to the stadium workers who pulled the coaches out of the elevator.

The only way they can atone for their blunder is by ensuring the elevator gets stuck with the appropriate passengers next week.

Who shall we drag on board?

Start with the refs. They deserve their own elevator. The game would be fairer without them, and about an hour shorter, too.

Vinny Testaverde no doubt will be fined for criticizing these sacred authority figures, but he should just say his remarks were inadvertent.

The zebras get away with it, don't they?

They blew so many calls yesterday, they lost track of which team was owed makeups.

Put 'em in the elevator so we can answer the immortal question: How many refs does it take to push an elevator button?

But enough about the officials.

The Ravens are lined up at the door.

At the start of the season, they talked about riding "The Train," whatever that meant. Now they get to ride "The Elevator," one sorry player at a time.

A bevy of candidates emerged as the Ravens blew a 15-point lead in the final 12: 04, then gagged in overtime:

All aboard!

Testaverde. Lost a fumbled snap with 2: 49 left, enabling the Jaguars to drive for the touchdown and two-point conversion that tied the score.

Also lost precious time in the final minute when he failed to spike the ball on a free play with the Jaguars about to be penalized.

Chris Hudson intercepted, and the clock ran down from 20 to seven seconds, forcing Matt Stover to attempt a field goal from 49 yards.

Stover missed, and you know the rest.

Hit the button, Vinny.

Stover. This is the NFL's second-most accurate kicker of all time?

Stover missed a 32-yarder at the end of regulation against St. Louis, but the Ravens saved him by winning in overtime.

His 49-yard attempt yesterday was no gimme, but within his range.

Wide right.

Right side of the elevator, please.

Eric Turner. Had a chance to intercept Mark Brunell for a touchdown on the first play of overtime, but failed to make the play.

Who cares that the All-Pro safety has interceptions in each of his last five games? No. 6 could have been the game-winner.

Into the elevator, pal -- arms at your side.

Earnest Byner. Fumbled in overtime, leading to the Jaguars' winning field goal.

Step in, Earnest.

And don't touch the buttons.

Donny Brady. All right, he's a rookie, but a 53-yard pass interference penalty with a 10-0 lead was one of his many sins.

Corner of the elevator for this beleaguered cornerback. Antonio Langham, DeRon Jenkins and Dorian Brew can fill the other three spots.

Ted Marchibroda. He again blamed injuries for the Ravens' problems, but if the team is so decimated, how does it keep building double-digit leads?

Give Marchibroda credit for refraining from criticizing his players, but you can't put a positive spin on this team.

Squeeze in, Ted.

And push the button marked, "Emergency."

Pub Date: 11/25/96

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