Ravens' defense comes on with a rush McCrary, Boulware, Jones lead charge

Ravens Notebook

Morris says he was OK

J. Lewis missed

Eagles 10, Ravens 10 (ot)

November 17, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Alan Goldstein, Vito Stellino and Mike Preston contributed to this article.

The Ravens had been starved for a pass-rushing performance like this. And facing a first-time starting quarterback like Bobby Hoying and a porous offensive line like Philadelphia's certainly helped their cause.

Perhaps the brightest spot of yesterday's 10-10 tie against the Eagles was the rebirth of the Ravens' pass rush. They blitzed with abandon, beat Eagles tackles Jermane Mayberry and Barrett Brooks with hard rushes to the outside, confused the Eagles with effective stunts up the middle. They hit Hoying in the pocket, chased him out of it, and generally made life miserable for the youngster.

In the end, the Ravens produced nearly as many sacks -- nine -- as points. They improved their sack total to 29, bringing them within one of last season's total.

Right defensive end Michael McCrary broke out of his slump with three sacks. Rookie linebacker Peter Boulware added two more. Defensive tackle James Jones punctuated another outstanding effort with two more.

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who had 11 tackles to go over last season's total of 142 -- Lewis now has 151 tackles with five games to go -- marveled at the play of McCrary and Boulware.

"Those guys are animals," he said. "You put them in a pass rush role and they'll beat anybody."

Said Jones: "It was just a matter of time for those guys. Peter is a great speed rusher who can beat anybody around the corner. Mac [McCrary] is the same way, although he likes to play more of a power game, which is unusual for a guy his size [257 pounds]. The thing about Mac is his motor. He's always high-strung and going hard."

McCrary, who recorded six tackles, a fumble recovery and has seven sacks on the year, looked at the bottom line of yesterday's results and dismissed his statistics.

"We did a good job for the majority of the game. We did a lot of good things to confuse them [up front]. But we didn't do it when it counted," said McCrary, recalling the five-play, 60-yard touchdown drive the Eagles staged late in the fourth quarter.

Morris: I could have played

Ravens running back Bam Morris was listed as probable by team officials during the week with a toe injury, but he did not play. Coach Ted Marchibroda said he made the decision not to play Morris on Thursday.

Morris said: "I practiced Wednesday and the coaches said they were going to talk to me about not playing on Thursday. They never did.

"I came out here early this morning and a decision was not made. Then they told me a little before game time. I think I could have gone out there. I would have been sore the next morning, but I think I could have gone."

J. Lewis is missed

Although Jay Graham did a remarkable job filling in for Morris, the Ravens were not as adept at compensating for the loss of slot receiver Jermaine Lewis, who was scratched with an ankle injury.

The absence of Lewis left the Ravens with four receivers, one of whom -- second-year man James Roe -- was left to replace Lewis on kick returns. Except for a muffed punt in the first half, Roe was solid.

Ryan Yarborough took Lewis' place at slotback, and turned in an ineffective outing. He went through regulation play without catching a pass. Early in overtime on fourth-and-six at the Eagles' 36, he ran the wrong pattern, partially leading to a sack of Testaverde.

Derrick Alexander, benched for the first series after being late for two team meetings, had four receptions for 39 yards.

At least Michael Jackson left his drought behind. By taking a quick out pass from Testaverde, using fine blocks by Jonathan Ogden and Leo Goeas and sprinting down the left sideline for a 29-yard touchdown early in the first quarter, Jackson enjoyed his first trip into the end zone since week 3 against the New York Giants.

"It felt great, but myself and Derrick were not a big enough part of things in overtime that we should have been," Jackson said. "I know what I'm capable of. I can only run my patterns and try to catch the ball when it comes my way."

Asked about being benched, Alexander said, "It's always tough when you know you're supposed to be the starter."

Of the decision to bench him, he said, "They react the way they react. If I was late, I was late."

At this point, Jackson, whose locker is next to Alexander's, interrupted the interview.

"Stop asking questions about it," Jackson said. "It's over. Stop writing that down."

At that point, Alexander left the locker room.

Defensive gem wasted

The Ravens have scored only 59 points in their last five games, during which they are 1-3-1. In the process, they continue to waste strong efforts by their defense.

Yesterday, the Ravens held the Eagles to 63 yards rushing. Before the Eagles put together their only touchdown drive late in regulation, they had produced only seven first downs.

It all starts up front.

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