McCrary determined to make up for lost time Surgery, lack of practice exact a heavy toll on spent defensive end

Ravens Notebook

Ravens 23, Bengals 10

September 08, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Alan Goldstein and Vito Stellino contributed to this article.

Until yesterday, right defensive end Michael McCrary was still a bit of a mystery to the Ravens. After all, a knee injury ruined most of McCrary's training camp, his entire preseason and kept him out of last week's season opener.

During his debut against the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday, McCrary got more acquainted with his new teammates. By recording four tackles and 1 1/2 sacks and putting steady pressure on quarterback Jeff Blake, McCrary showed the relentless style that brought him from Seattle to Baltimore as a free agent. For a guy who has not practiced consistently for seven weeks and still isn't fully healed from arthroscopic surgery last month, McCrary put on an especially inspired show.

"You talk about character and you talk about effort. The guy gives you everything he has," Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said of McCrary. "He was throwing up there with a minute left. He had no more to give. Guys like that would throw up all day if they could have the victory."

"Part of it is because I'm not in shape yet," McCrary said. "It's been seven weeks since I've been out there running. It felt real good to be out there, it kind of let me know I've still got the ability. I kind of wobbled a little bit toward the end, but I'll get into shape."

McCrary, who said he would be "a hundred percent" for next week's road opener against the New York Giants, made his presence known throughout the first half, while working against Cincinnati left tackle Rod Jones.

After dropping Ki-Jana Carter for a 4-yard loss early in the second quarter, McCrary put together an excellent sequence later in the quarter, with the Ravens trailing 7-3. First, he teamed up with Peter Boulware to sack Blake for a 6-yard loss. Then, McCrary slashed into the backfield and dropped Blake for a 9-yard sack.

Moore steps up

One could sense a sigh of relief and affirmation in Stevon Moore's voice, as he reviewed a day in which the Ravens' suspect secondary produced a solid effort against one of the league's most explosive offenses.

Although the Ravens surrendered their share of big plays, allowing 283 yards and a Blake-to-Carl Pickens touchdown, the defensive backfield countered by defensing five passes and playing the run aggressively, particularly cornerback Antonio Langham (four tackles).

But it was Moore, the eight-year veteran strong safety, who ultimately carried the day with two interceptions. He stamped out any chance of a Bengals comeback by picking off Blake in the Ravens' end zone with just over a minute remaining.

"All eyes are on us. We know we can score points," Moore said. "A lot of people were doubting our secondary. Regardless of what people say about our defense, or our corners or our secondary, we keep coming out and playing hard.

"This is the first time we've had our defense together. In the second half, we took it to them, tired them out and won the game."

First things first

With four catches for 35 yards, including the 18-yard touchdown that gave the Ravens a 20-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, tight end Eric Green has eight receptions this year. That's more than half of what he managed last year (15 receptions) in Baltimore.

"I'm not going to get too high on the highs or too low on the lows," Green said. "I want success for my team first, and I come second."

Nice run for Byner

Running back Earnest Byner (17 carries, 75 yards) became the 20th-most productive rusher in NFL history yesterday. Byner passed Freeman McNeil with a 9-yard run midway through the third quarter. The game momentarily was stopped as the crowd cheered after an announcement about Byner's achievement.

"Obviously, it was somewhat of a thrill," said Byner, who has 8,086 career yards. "I'm appreciative because the league is bigger than me, and this honor will be here for a lifetime, even when I'm gone. We've made it, me and my wife, through a nice run in the league, and it's nice for her to enjoy this with me."

What's so funny?

Blake, who engineered two dramatic comebacks against the Ravens last year, did not seem particularly disturbed by yesterday's loss.

"I had a lot of fun out there today," said the sixth-year veteran from East Carolina. "We moved the ball up and down the field; we just missed on a few plays."

Somehow, Blake managed to overlook the first quarter when the Bengals had the ball for six plays and less than three minutes.

"I can't worry about that," he said. "We still wound up with 60 [actually 59] plays, and we had our chances to come back in the last quarter."

End of a nightmare

The last time the Bengals played here, Nov. 3, 1996, was a day guard Scott Brumfield won't soon forget. He suffered severe damage to his spinal chord after banging helmets with VVTC teammate.

After a frightening time of lying immobile on the field, Brumfield was rushed to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and spent four days undergoing tests before being released. He missed the last seven games of the season.

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