Preseason perfection: 33-0 Ravens blow past Jets

J. Lewis kicks off rout on 97-yard punt return

Receiver has 2-TD day

Defense equally sharp in 2nd straight win

August 16, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Ravens answered several questions about their 1998 team last night in a 33-0 preseason win over the New York Jets before a crowd of 47,906 at Giants Stadium.

And the most promising sign came from Jermaine Lewis, who showed he can be just as effective as an outside receiver as he was in the slot position a year ago.

This could be the anticipated breakout season for Lewis in his bid to be a complete receiver.

Last night, he set the tone with a 97-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter, and then hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline as the Ravens led, 20-0, at halftime.

The Ravens also found that their defensive front of ends Michael McCrary and Rob Burnett, and tackles Tony Siragusa and James Jones, which was ranked No. 10 against the run last year, is still effective as it held the Jets' first-unit offense with running back Curtis Martin scoreless in the first half.

Also, the Ravens' offensive line played well despite missing two starters in right tackle Orlando Brown (ankle) and center Wally Williams (holdout) and having starting left guard Ben Cavil leave the game with a lacerated eyelid with 1: 50 left in the first quarter.

Quarterback Jim Harbaugh worked the two-minute offense to perfection in the first half for the first time this season and the Ravens got strong secondary play from cornerback DeRon Jenkins, free safety Kim Herring and strong safety Ralph Staten, who was filling in for the injured Stevon Moore.

"This was a good team effort," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda, whose team improved to 2-0 in the preseason. "The special teams got us off to a good start. We didn't have a good week of practice, but I told our team Thursday that they had two days to focus. I knew we would regroup. It's early, but we played the type of game we needed to.

"We got two big plays from Jermaine Lewis and he beat an excellent corner for the touchdown pass," Marchibroda said. "He's picking up right where he left off."

Last year, Lewis was in the slot position when he caught 42 passes for 648 yards and six touchdowns. He also led the league with a 15.6-yard punt-return average.

But this season Lewis was moved outside and there were questions about how he would play against better cornerbacks and if he could get off the line of scrimmage against more physical cornerbacks.

Lewis didn't have any problems beating cornerback Aaron Glenn on the touchdown pass, and even fewer problems burning him for another 26-yard completion after catching a 5-yarder from Harbaugh.

"Things are going pretty well," Lewis said. "I'm still trying to learn the offense. "This year, as opposed to last year, I don't feel that I need to prove myself. I just want to go out there and work hard and continue to learn."

Lewis gambled on the punt return.

"I knew I was deep, but I didn't know how deep," he said. "Coach says if it's a low punt, grab and get as much yardage as you can."

The Ravens' offense started slowly, but defensively they dominated, holding the Jets to 91 total yards in the first half. New York helped the Ravens by starting rookie Jason Fabini and first-year player Kerry Jenkins at offensive tackles -- they were dominated by McCrary, Burnett and strong-side linebacker Peter Boulware.

The threesome combined for eight tackles and three sacks in the first two quarters. The Ravens finished with five sacks and didn't allowed Jets quarterbacks Vinny Testaverde or Glenn Foley time to pick on the suspect secondary.

"I think the fact that we had a good pass rush early in the game helped [the secondary]," Marchibroda said. "But they stepped up and did their job well today. I have to give them high marks."

The Ravens had three interceptions, one by No. 1 draft pick Duane Starks, a former University of Miami cornerback. But the defense did allow Martin to rush for 40 yards on 12 carries in the first half and tackling was a problem.

"I think Curtis Martin is a very good player," Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. "Last week, we looked good against the Bears, but a player like Curtis Martin can make you miss a few tackles. But we have to do a better job.

"I think our secondary played well after the first series," Lewis said. "We may have been a little tense, but after that we relaxed and played better. We have to learn to keep practicing and practicing, then come out and play to the utmost of our ability on every snap."

Jermaine Lewis gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead after the Jets' opening offensive series when he took a punt at his 3-yard line and then darted to his left to miss the first wave of Jets. He got a great block from linebacker Cornell Brown at the 10 and then hit full stride around the 20, leaving everyone else behind as he scored with 10: 53 left in the first quarter.

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