Bottom line is winning 'new' Ravens still not there

September 01, 1997|By Ken Rosenthal

As if coaching the Ravens isn't enough of a challenge, now Ted Marchibroda wants to be a newspaper editor, too.

"For you guys that are going to write the same old Ravens, it's the same thing as last year, well, let me tell you something: This isn't the Ravens of last year," an angry, defiant Marchibroda said after yesterday's 28-27 loss to Jacksonville.

"We played these guys. We could have won the football game. Last year's two football games, we didn't have the team to beat them. We did this year. We had the team to beat 'em but we didn't.

"You've got to give those guys [the Jaguars] a lot of credit. They took the game. But I'll still read that tomorrow. Same old Ravens. It's going be the lead line for somebody. That's all right."

Thanks for the permission, Ted.

Same old Ravens. Same old Ravens. Same old Ravens.

You bet we're going to write it.

We're going to write it and write it and write it, until this team stops falling all over itself, stops blowing second-half leads, stops losing games it should win.

For a group that is now 4-13 since coming to Baltimore, the Ravens had an awfully high opinion of themselves yesterday.

"We won, as far as I'm concerned," wide receiver Michael Jackson said. "We're a better team than Jacksonville."

"They're one of the top teams in the AFC. I think we showed we're one of the top teams, too," defensive end Rob Burnett said.

Are we missing something?

The Ravens lost to a backup quarterback who played the second half on one leg. They lost to a team that was penalized 11 times. They lost because they always lose, and they blamed it on the zebras, of all people.

True, the refs blew it on a seemingly completed fourth-and-18 pass to Jackson with 44 seconds left, a play that would have moved the Ravens within field-goal range.

But why assume Matt Stover would have made the game-winning kick?

He missed two last season.

And with the Ravens, it's always something.

Yes, they rallied from a 14-0 deficit yesterday. Yes, the offense piled up 373 yards. Yes, the defense allowed only 14 points after the first quarter.

Who cares?

Win a game, then the numbers will matter.

Win a game, then talk all you want.

"It's the same thing -- there's enough blame for everyone, offense, defense, special teams," Marchibroda said. "We win as a team, we lose as a team. Again, for all you doubting Thomases here, you saw a football team that played that team to a standstill, the team that almost went to the Super Bowl last year."

The Ravens are either:

A) Convinced they're onto something, or,

B) In total denial.

Which should we doubting Thomases choose?

The acronym is S.O.R., as in S.O.S.

Same, old

Shhhh! Here comes Ted.

As the coach said, there's enough blame for everyone. Start with his own play-calling early in the fourth quarter, when the Ravens had first-and-goal on the Jacksonville 5 with a 24-21 lead.

Earnest Byner had run on two of the previous three plays, gaining a total of 26 yards. The Ravens' offensive line was rolling. The Jaguars' defense was reeling.

So, what did Marchibroda do?

He passed, not once but twice.

Both throws were incomplete. The second was nearly intercepted.

And the crowd of 61,018 booed when the Ravens finally ran again on third down, with Byner failing to reach the end zone.

A touchdown would have put the Ravens two scores ahead. The 25-yard field goal by Stover only set up the inevitable.

"Some days you hit 'em, some days you don't," Marchibroda said.

Ask Vinny Testaverde.

The quarterback produced his usual gaudy statistics, completing 24 of 41 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns. But he also made his usual killer mistakes, throwing three interceptions, two in the second half, one just before the two-minute warning.

Testaverde, at least, had an excuse -- he suffered a bruised thigh that might have affected his throwing. But Jacksonville's Rob Johnson had an even better excuse, and he completed seven of eight passes for 122 yards in the second half, including the decisive 28-yard touchdown to Jimmy Smith with 5: 47 remaining.

As much as his ankle was hurting, Johnson found relief in every Ravens opponent's recovery room -- the right corner. Twice, the Jaguars burned Donny Brady for touchdowns. Left corner Antonio Langham also got beaten on a big play that led to a Jacksonville touchdown at the end of the first half.

DeRon Jenkins was supposed to be starting over Brady by now, but he's not even useful as a nickel back. And while on the subject of missing persons, don't forget the suspended Bam Morris. Maybe Marchibroda would have given him the ball near the goal line. Maybe Mr. Irresponsible could have helped protect the lead.

But back to this budding juggernaut.

Back to the new Ravens.

"There's a lot more excitement, a lot more love, as far the players are concerned," Burnett said. "There was a lot more individuality last year, guys out for themselves. Now we're collectively trying to win."

As an example, Jackson cited the team joining hands before the game.

"We're one in here. We believe in one another. We'll continue to believe in one another," he said. "It's up to you on the outside to decide whether you're going to be with us on our ride or not."

Don't the Ravens get it?

An entire city would climb aboard, if only the team would cooperate.

Win a stinkin' game already.

Just once, win a stinkin' game.

Pub Date: 9/01/97

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