With surgery imminent, McCrary goes for broke, plays for moment Torn knee cartilage due for repair today

Ravens Notebook

Green, Morris want to return

December 22, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht and Vito Stellino | Gary Lambrecht and Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

CINCINNATI -- Defensive end Michael McCrary had every reason to sit out yesterday's season finale. The Ravens had no postseason hopes to play for, McCrary's ailing left knee had kept him out of action for virtually all of last week's game against Tennessee, and he faced the prospect of aggravating the injury on Cinergy Field's artificial turf.

What's more, McCrary already had scheduled surgery today to repair torn cartilage in the knee.

And yet, there he was yesterday, battling left tackle Kevin Sargent, chasing quarterback Boomer Esiason and running down ball carriers.

"I just tried to block [the pain] out mentally and let my emotions take over," said McCrary, who finished with six solo tackles and a pass deflection.

"My philosophy is, you give it all you've got all of the time. You really have to do it at the end [of a rough season]. It's something to prove to myself. I had to do everything to fight through [the pain]. It's important for the younger players to see."

Green finishes in flourish

Tight end Eric Green finished his comeback season in style by catching a 12-yard touchdown pass with 1: 40 left -- one of seven catches that accounted for 62 yards.

Green, who rebounded from off-season knee surgery, played out his one-year contract by finishing in a second-place tie on the team with 65 receptions. He accumulated 601 yards and five touchdowns.

Green, who can become an unrestricted free agent in February, said he was overcome with emotion after yesterday's loss.

"I never cried after a game until today," Green said. "I owe a lot to [trainers] Bill Tessendorf and Mark Smith. They were diligent with me [in his rehabilitation]. I'm glad I was able to stay healthy all season, and they brought me to this point.

"I owe the Ravens a shot at getting me back here. This offense is great for a tight end. I want to come back."

Morris: 'I want to be here'

If Bam Morris solves his legal problems and the Ravens want him back, he wants to stay in Baltimore even though he'll be a free agent when the free-agency signing period opens in February.

"It's up to Ozzie Newsome [vice president of player personnel] and the front office. I really don't know anything to be honest with you. But I'd love to be here without a doubt," he said yesterday.

He said he wouldn't go shopping in the free-agent market if the Ravens want him.

"If they want me, I like it, I want to be here. I'm looking to be back next year. Again, that's not up to me," he said.

Morris, who faces some off-the-field problems including a bail revocation hearing in Texas, sounded confident that he'll overcome those obstacles.

"I think it'll eventually die. That stuff in Texas, I just have to deal with it when I get home," he said.

He said he didn't want to comment on the substance of the case.

Morris also credited the schemes of Cincinnati defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau for holding him to 22 yards on 13 carries. Even though the Bengals were ranked 30th against the run, they controlled the line of scrimmage. When Morris was in Pittsburgh, LeBeau was an assistant coach there.

"He pretty much blitzed the whole game to stop the run," Morris said. "There was a lot of pressure. He did some different stunts. It worked for them early and they kept doing it. I knew he [LeBeau] was going to bring the dogs."

Penalties galore

Besides surrendering a few big plays at inopportune times, the Ravens also went down in a hail of penalty flags.

A season-high 12 penalties at a cost of 100 yards, to be exact.

The offensive line was hit hard. Right guard Jeff Blackshear drew two holding calls. Left tackle Jonathan Ogden was called for a holding infraction. Center Quentin Neujahr's holding penalty was declined. Plus, Green committed a false start.

Ogden, who is headed to his first Pro Bowl, was not pleased with some of the calls.

"There were some terrible calls out there," said Ogden, who could be seen pleading with officials on several occasions. "I think the crew got tired of me talking, but I'm going to Hawaii, and they're not."

Alexander in fine form

If this was his last game as a Raven, at least wide receiver Derrick Alexander went out with a wallop.

Alexander finished with five receptions for a team-high 111 yards, and his 83-yard touchdown catch five minutes into the second half was a beauty.

On the play, Alexander adjusted his sideline pattern to assist quarterback Eric Zeier as he scrambled out of the pocket to his left. Cincinnati cornerback Jimmy Spencer fell down on the play. After hauling in the catch near the Ravens' 40, Alexander showed explosive speed by pulling away from safety Bo Orlando.

Alexander, who can become an unrestricted free agent, plans to test the market, but he said his heart remains in Baltimore.

"This is where I want to be," said Alexander, who finished with 65 receptions and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year. Alexander finished with 1,009 yards and nine touchdowns, both team highs.

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