Fans leave purple, black mark Baltimore presence felt at Redskins' stadium

Ravens notebook

Modell sees turning point

October 28, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Running back Bam Morris wasn't the only large Ravens presence felt on Sunday at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, where Morris abused the Redskins with a career-high 176 yards.

The 12th man, also known as several thousand Baltimore fans, made quite a mark in Washington's house.

"When we went out to the field for introductions, I was surprised at the reaction, because I heard our fans were having trouble getting tickets. I think the rain kept some of [Washington's] fans indoors," said quarterback Vinny Testaverde, who was showered with cheers as he left the field after kneeling down on the game's final play to secure the 20-17 victory.

Added wide receiver Michael Jackson: "It was noticeable during warm-ups. We had a lot of people cheering us on, and that was a plus. The rowdy [Redskins] fans were there, but I guess the corporate fans weren't there. They didn't feel like getting their Monday suits wet."

Said Ravens owner Art Modell: "I was surprised. I walked in and saw all those purple hats and jerseys. I don't know how they got all those tickets, because we weren't given that many."

Ravens ready for takeoff?

Modell likened the Ravens' victory to a launching pad for future success.

"The game was a turning point for our team, coaching staff and for developing our younger players," Modell said. "I noticed today there are nine teams at 4-4, which means there is more parity in the NFL now than in the history of the league, and we're one of them. We're still in the hunt [for a playoff berth].

"We're going to have a good football team before this year is out. I'm not going to predict wins and losses, but I expect significant progress to be made as a launching pad for next season. The best is yet to come."

Not Testaverde's fault

Upon further review, Testaverde isn't solely to blame for the three fumbles that marred his otherwise efficient performance Sunday.

Early in the second quarter, near the end of the Ravens' 20-play, 78-yard touchdown drive, Testaverde appeared to fumble the snap, which he recovered at the Washington 4, one play before Morris scored. But right guard Jeff Blackshear hit Testaverde's hand as he came out of his stance.

In another goal-line situation, Testaverde lost the ball while attempting to pass from the Redskins' 10 early in the fourth quarter. Morris actually struck Testaverde's arm as he stepped up to pass block, knocking the ball loose. Morris then recovered the fumble.

Testaverde took the blame for his last fumble. On the Ravens' next possession, they were in a second-and-three at their 27, when Testaverde dropped back to throw, sat in the pocket for several seconds, then moved to his left. Linebacker Greg Jones stripped Testaverde of the ball from behind, and Marvcus Patton recovered.

"It didn't help that it was a wet day, but I have to be more aware of the situation in the pocket, and the amount of time I was in the pocket [before pressure arrived]," Testaverde said.

"We've had trouble with snaps two games in a row, and that's a little surprising to us," coach Ted Marchibroda said. "We've talked to Vinny about keeping two hands on the ball. That's probably easier said than done, since he's used to holding it with one hand and you often revert to old habits in the heat of battle. These things are correctable."

Misleading Montgomery

Punter Greg Montgomery's strange season continues. He began Sunday's game ranked next-to-last in the AFC with an average of 41.2 yards per punt, and that didn't improve after Montgomery punted four times for a 38.5-yard average.

But those raw numbers mask what has been a quietly effective first half of the season for Montgomery.

Eleven of his 29 punts have pinned opponents inside their 20. His net average was still an impressive 37.7 yards, since the Ravens have only allowed opponents an average of 5.5 yards per punt return, lowest in the AFC. In other words, Montgomery almost never out-kicks his coverage.

And Montgomery is the NFL's only punter who has yet to record a touchback.

"I feel I'm in a little slump, but I haven't had a really horrendous game," Montgomery said. "I'm still working on getting the ball downfield more. I've been trying to be too much of a technician instead of just making solid contact. I've been working too much on being perfect.

"I'm stronger than ever, I'm in great shape and I'm healthy, but I've been too tentative at times. I haven't been hitting the big ball, but at least no one has been getting real big returns on me."

Et cetera

With a 3-1 record away from home, the Ravens are in a four-way tie with the Jets, Denver and Carolina for second-best road record in the league. The Ravens, who earned their fourth victory in Week 8, did not record their fourth victory last season until Week 13. Kicker Matt Stover leads the AFC and is second in the NFL with 74 points. Stover has missed just two of 21 field-goal attempts, and is 15-for-15 inside the 40. Receiver Jermaine Lewis leads the team with 17.2 yards per catch.

Pub Date: 10/28/97

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