Defensive stand lifts Siragusa's hopes for stretch After two stingy games, 'guys starting to believe'


November 08, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston | Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

After reviewing the last two games, tackle Tony Siragusa is convinced the Ravens' defense is poised for a strong stretch run.

The numbers suggest the defense is on at least a mini-roll. In their last two games, a 20-17 victory over Washington and last week's 19-16 overtime defeat against the New York Jets, the Ravens have given up a combined 36 points, surrendering only 249 and 225 yards, respectively. The Redskins averaged just 3.2 yards rushing, the Jets, 2.2.

"Defensively, the last two weeks is the best the front four has played," Siragusa said. "The defense has two big games under their belts. It's just like having two great practices.

"This is the perfect time to get on a roll. This time of the year, it's all about getting on a roll, and we'll see who does that over the next few weeks."

Siragusa thought back to the 1995 season, when the Indianapolis Colts finished with a 9-7 record, before gathering a stunning amount of momentum in the playoffs. The Colts ended up falling a Hail Mary pass short in Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game.

"We have a lot more talent, a lot more people capable of making big plays than the Colts had," he said. "Guys are starting to believe in themselves. There's an electricity on that sideline. This team is getting there. This team is just hairs away from doing great things."

Beating the Steelers in Three Rivers Stadium to reverse a 1-4 slide and even their record at 5-5 would be a fine place for the Ravens to start.

Holding the line

Remember all of the preseason talk about the Ravens' offensive line being a question mark?

Remember how all of the disruptions -- the Achilles' tendon injury to center Wally Williams, the inexperience of his replacement, Quentin Neujahr, the addition of left guard Leo Goeas, the transition of Jonathan Ogden from left guard to left tackle -- were supposed to hinder the team's main strength from a year ago?

Nine games into the season, the numbers suggest otherwise. The Ravens are averaging 4.0 yards per rush, they have the top-rated passing offense in the league, and they have only surrendered 14 sacks, good for third in the NFL.

The low number of sacks is especially impressive in light of the Ravens' average of 39 pass attempts per game.

"That says we're good," Ogden said. "And we're not a team that does a lot of quick drop, three-step passes. We're a drop-back passing team that does a lot of one-on-one blocking."

A $5,000 shirttail

A day after Peter Boulware absorbed a $7,500 fine for his illegal takedown of Jets quarterback Glenn Foley, Ogden stood at his locker, shaking his head over a note from the league.

Ogden said he had been fined $5,000 for a uniform violation. He played for part of the game with his shirttail hanging out in New York last week.

"My shirttail might have been out, but there were some circumstances around that," he said. "It was raining all day. At least I had the front tucked in. I'll have a comment to the league about it."

Speaking of fines, defensive end Rob Burnett is determined not to repeat the behavior that cost him $5,000 the last time the Ravens faced the Steelers on Oct. 5.

Burnett, who said he grew frustrated with Steelers tight end Mark Bruener for holding him repeatedly, ripped off Bruener's helmet and punched him in the face. It marked the first time in his eight-year career that Burnett has drawn a fine for fighting.

"I'm not going to try to justify it. I was wrong," Burnett said. "He was doing his job, I lost my cool. It got ugly, and it was all my fault. I'm surprised [an official] didn't throw a flag."

Players to lead Bible study

A group of Ravens, including kicker Matt Stover, running back Earnest Byner, linebackers Boulware and Jamie Sharper, tight end Brian Kinchen and defensive tackle James Jones, will hold a Bible study on Nov. 18, from 6: 30 p.m. to 9: 30 p.m. at the La Fontaine Bleu, 3107 Erdman Ave. Admission is free. For ticket information, call 410-719-8834.

Super encouragement

This just in from yesterday's editions of the New York Times: "The Ravens are building a good team. Two years down the road, they could be a Super Bowl-caliber team. Don't laugh. They have a smart coach and dedicated ownership, and Vinny Testaverde has a number of good years left in him. You will get a glimpse of the future when Baltimore squeaks by the Steelers in an upset. Ravens 28-21."


Williams taking it easy

Both receivers Michael Jackson (ruptured biceps) and Jermaine Lewis (sprained ankle) were held out of practice along with center Williams.

"I've had some tough luck with turf," said Williams, who recently recovered from a ruptured Achilles' tendon. "I got injured on turf and we played on it last week and we have it again Sunday. So I think they just wanted to give the foot and ankle a chance to rest."

Pub Date: 11/08/97

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