Ravens' winning formula doesn't add up to victory EAGLES 10, RAVENS 10 (OT)

From The Sidelines

November 17, 1997|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Like a pair of club fighters staggering to the finish, the Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles managed to knock each other out at the bell yesterday.

They were both carried off after a 10-10 tie that left both teams with 4-6-1 records and all but knocked them out of any shot at a postseason berth.

It was more frustrating for the Ravens because they had a 204-63 rushing edge and sacked young quarterback Bobby Hoying nine times, but still managed to find a way not to win. It was like a loss because they're now two games out of the final playoff spot in the AFC with just five left.

When you run the ball well, stop the run and get nine sacks, that's usually a formula for victory. For the Ravens, it was a formula for a tie. That's because both teams made more than enough mistakes to lose.

At least the Eagles had the consolation that they may have found a young quarterback in Hoying, who could be a keeper. He took a licking and kept on ticking, putting together a five-play, 60-yard touchdown drive to tie the game in the fourth quarter.

Hoying didn't throw an interception and fumbled only once. He probably should have avoided a couple of sacks by throwing the ball away, but he showed he can be the Eagles' quarterback of the future.

The Ravens, meanwhile, proved once again that they don't have a quarterback of the future. Eric Zeier showed last week that he's not ready and Vinny Testaverde, who turned 34 last week, is still, well, Vinny Testaverde. He threw his usual killer interception from the Eagles' 13 late in the second quarter, a play that cost the Ravens at least three points.

Another positive for the Ravens is that Jay Graham showed he can be a heavy-duty running back. That's something the team can build on if it ever decides to junk the three-wide-receiver offense and operate like a real NFL team.

Highlights and lowlights of the NFL's first tie in the 1990s: Turning point: It was fitting that the Eagles botched a chance to win on the final play. After Ricky Watters caught a pass for a first down at the Ravens' 17 with about 25 seconds left, the Eagles had no timeouts but plenty of time to stop the clock with a spike. But they tried to rush the field-goal team on, then rushed them off and lined up for the spike. In the process, they were penalized for an illegal formation, which meant Chris Boniol had to try a 40-yarder instead of a 35-yarder. Coach Ray Rhodes took the blame for the confusion, but there's no excuse for not being more organized.

Ground game: With Bam Morris ailing, Graham showed he can be a big-time runner. Bouncing back from last week's disaster when he fumbled twice on a kickoff return and was nailed by the kicker, he didn't fumble in 35 carries and ran for 154 yards. Graham would have had more if he hadn't been forced out in overtime with an ankle injury.

Testaverde file: Yesterday's game provided another example of why Testaverde's play is so frustrating. He did some good things, notably throwing the ball away instead of taking a sack and throwing a quick out to Michael Jackson on fourth-and-two for the Ravens' only touchdown. But he had two interceptions. The second one was tipped, but on the first, he didn't see William Thomas, and it cost the Ravens three points.

Good touch: Punter Greg Montgomery pinned the Eagles on their 2-yard line with his first punt and kept the Eagles deep in their own territory much of the game. Other than booming one for his first touchback of the season, Montgomery had a virtually flawless day. He dropped three inside the 20 and averaged 46.1 yards on seven punts.

Worst drop: There were a lot of dropped passes, but the one that may have cost the Eagles the game came on a second-and-five play at the Ravens' 33 in overtime. Hoying put it right in Charlie Garner's hands, but he turned and tried to run before he had it and dropped it. The Eagles then turned the ball over on downs after two more incomplete passes.

Discipline?: Wide receiver Derrick Alexander was benched at the start of the game for being late to two meetings recently, but he entered the game on the Ravens' second series. That wasn't exactly sending a strong message that the club won't tolerate such a casual attitude. Alexander caught four passes for 39 yards, had a drop and wasn't a major factor.

Best play: The Ravens scored their only touchdown on a fourth-and-two play at the Eagles' 29 in the first quarter. They first lined up and tried to get the Eagles to jump offside. When that didn't work, they called time out. Testaverde then threw a quick pass to Jackson on the left sideline. Cornerback Charles Dimry took a step back instead of playing tight coverage and fell down. Jackson, with the help of a big block by Jonathan Ogden, streaked down the left sideline for the touchdown.

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