Game 8: It's mission accomplished

Ravens 20, Redskins 17

Morris, Ravens rule at Jack Kent Cooke, win 'in-house rivalry'

October 27, 1997|By Mike Preston | Sun reporter

LANDOVER — In one corner of the Ravens' locker room, 325-pound defensive tackle Tony Siragusa was doing his little victory dance. In another area, defensive tackle Larry Webster was talking about some of the negative publicity the team had gotten in the past three weeks. And then there was rookie outside linebacker Peter Boulware, hoping that the team's latest victory had captured the hearts of Baltimore and possibly created a major turnaround.

In an ugly and bizarre contest dominated by Bam Morris' career-best, 176-yard rushing effort, the Ravens defeated an old Baltimore rival in the Washington Redskins, 20-17, yesterday before an announced crowd of 75,067 (and several thousand unannounced no-shows) at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.

The Ravens (4-4) were not overly impressive in the win, but this one was for Baltimore. A year ago, the Ravens had lost their other mission game, 26-21, to the Indianapolis Colts, the team that left Baltimore nearly 14 years ago. But this time, the Ravens exacted some revenge, beating the city's second-most-hated team.

So what if Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde fumbled three times, including two that almost cost the team the game? So what if the Ravens' secondary and kickoff teams gave up a couple of big plays? And so what if they barely won, despite a better-than-10-minute advantage in time of possession?

What was important was that the Ravens broke a three-game losing streak and gave the Redskins (4-4) their first loss in their brand-new house. They also left Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte in a lot of pain and crying on the sideline as the game ended.

"Baltimore was looking for this one," Boulware said. "That's what makes it so special. Now that we've got some momentum, maybe we can build on it and get things started."

Siragusa said: "If the Redskins say it's not a rivalry, that's their prerogative. But I know what the people in Baltimore and Maryland think, and it's nice to win the in-house rivalry."

The game closed on a strange play. Reserve safety Bennie Thompson, who has the worst hands of any of the Ravens' defensive backs and is the team's last choice to play in the secondary, deflected Frerotte's pass and linebacker Ray Lewis intercepted it to kill the Redskins' last possession at the Washington 42 with 46 seconds left.

Thompson never saw the pass.

"I think Rondell Jones [starting safety] got hurt, and they told me to go in. You know I prepare like I'm the backup quarterback," Thompson said with a wink. "I saw Frerotte throw the ball to tight end Jamie Asher, so I just broke to make the tackle, and before I could see it, the ball hit me in the shoulder.

"But the play didn't work as Ray and I planned," said Thompson, laughing. "Ray was supposed to intercept the ball, I was supposed to block the quarterback and he was supposed to use his blazing speed to run for the touchdown."

The Ravens really didn't need Lewis' legs, because they relied on the running of their halfback. Morris, 6 feet and 245 pounds, ran for 176 yards on 36 carries, both career highs. The Ravens' offensive line pushed around the Redskins, with great contributions from guards Jeff Blackshear, Ben Cavil and Leo Goeas, and standout play from tackles Orlando Brown and Jonathan Ogden.

The Redskins entered the game with the 29th-ranked rushing defense in the league.

"We came in knowing we were going to run the ball, and we knew they couldn't stop us," Brown said. "It was crunch time. Even when they figured it out, we were unstoppable."

Said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda: "Bam did an outstanding job. He made yardage, and he made tough yardage. This is the Bam we expect to see, and this is the Bam we know can do the job for us. Bam is a tough, hard-nosed runner, and he goes along with our line extremely well because our line is the same way -- very tough."

Despite the run-oriented attack basically out of the one-back set, the Ravens gave the Redskins a lot of looks on offense. The Ravens went with three- and four-receiver sets to match up their offensive line with smaller Washington safeties who had to play linebacker roles. They put tight end Eric Green on the outside occasionally to draw the safeties out of the middle to allow Morris to go one-on-one with cornerbacks.

Basically, Marchibroda and his staff gave Redskins coach Norv Turner a nice little lesson with an attack of 44 rushes and 21 passes.

"We weren't concerned with what they do. It's what we do," Marchibroda said.

The Ravens also got a decent effort from their defense on another one of those days when Frerotte was inconsistent, completing 17 of 33 passes for 199 yards. The Ravens, who had been pummeled by opposing ground attacks in the past two games, held the Redskins to 67 yards rushing, as Lewis led the front seven in tackles with 15 and end Michael McCrary and Boulware provided the pressure on passing downs.

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