Ravens end preseason 4-0 Priest's late runs help top Giants, 14-6

offense weak early

Final cuts kick off with Jones negotiations

August 29, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Ravens were not waiting for the conclusion of last night's 14-6 win over the New York Giants and the team's first undefeated preseason in their three years in Baltimore to determine their final 1998 roster.

An hour before the game and nearly 72 hours before tomorrow's deadline for announcing their final 53-player roster, the Ravens were negotiating an injury settlement with reserve safety Rondell Jones, who started 12 games at free safety last season.

The team has to cut eight players from its 61-player roster and Jones was one of two safeties on the bubble, along with third-year player Donny Brady.

The Ravens had only one day to prepare for last night's game after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, 23-6, on Monday night, and it showed. The offense again looked sluggish, compiling only 117 yards in the first half.

Coach Ted Marchibroda removed quarterback Jim Harbaugh early in the second quarter, but the remainder of the first unit played the entire first half.

Harbaugh completed five of six passes in the first half for 33 yards, but the Ravens never produced a serious scoring threat, even though they had the ball in Giants' territory four times.

"Penalties hurt us tonight," Harbaugh said, "but we can take care of that. We'll be more prepared next week [for the regular-season opener against Pittsburgh]. You treat training camp differently because you prepare for certain things, but next week we won't be coming in blind."

The offensive line struggled again, particularly right tackle Orlando Brown, who had two holding penalties and also was responsible for an illegal-formation penalty in the first half.

But the Ravens' defense dominated the Giants' offense, holding it to 64 yards in the first half, only 14 rushing. Giants quarterback Dan Kanell was 2-for-5 passing for 22 yards. The Ravens' first-team defense did not given up a touchdown in four preseason games.

"The defense has been excellent all preseason and they've gained confidence," said Marchibroda. "They've come together."

The Ravens sealed the game with a 5-yard touchdown run by halfback Priest Holmes with 28 seconds remaining in the game.

New York opened the third quarter by going from its 20 to the Ravens' 28 before Brad Daluiso converted a 46-yard field goal to put the Giants ahead 3-0 with 11: 09 left in the period.

The Giants made it 6-0 when wide receiver Joe Jurevicius ran an out-and-up pattern and beat rookie cornerback Duane Starks for a 59-yard reception to the Ravens' 4-yard line to eventually set up a a 22-yard field goal by Daluiso with 5: 34 left in the third quarter.

The Ravens, though, made it 7-6 when running back Errict Rhett scored on a 23-yard run around right end with with 2: 18 remaining in the period to complete a six-play, 81-yard drive. Ravens backup quarterback Eric Zeier threw well in the drive, completing passes of 23 and 22 yards.

The Ravens had a great opportunity to put the game away when defensive end Mike Frederick stripped the ball from quarterback Graham and recovered it at the Giants' 12 with 9: 28 left in the game.

But the Ravens lost 7 yards on their next three plays and third-string quarterback Wally Richardson's pass intended for James Roe was intercepted in the end zone by safety Percy Ellsworth with 8: 26 remaining.

The Ravens sealed it on their next possession, though, which began at their 37, behind the running of third-string running back Holmes. He had a 3-yard run around left end on a third-and-two at the Giants' 42 with 3: 34 left in the game.

On the next play, Holmes ran for 25 yards to the Giants' 14 and finished the drive with the 5-yard touchdown.

Holmes was the game's leading rusher with 68 yards on 10 carries. Rhett finished with 37 on six attempts. Starter Jay Graham had only 2 yards on eight attempts.

As for Jones' situation, Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, would not directly address it. Jones, who has had knee and other leg problems, did not dress for the game.

"For the benefit of both sides in this matter, it's just something I don't want to talk about," Jones said after the game. "There's really nothing to be discussed right now."

Said Newsome: "My only comment is that we expect to keep 10 defensive backs."

If that's the case, then the Ravens would keep cornerbacks Rod Woodson, top draft pick Starks, DeRon Jenkins and John Williams, and safeties Kim Herring, Stevon Moore, Bennie Thompson, Ralph Staten, Brady and Corey Harris.

Jones, who is expected to be paid half of his $400,000 salary, became expendable after the team signed Harris during training camp and Harris received guaranteed money.

The Ravens have to name their final roster by 4 p.m. tomorrow. The coaching staff will spend today looking at game film -- not to decide the final roster spots, but to fine-tune a defense that has played well all preseason and an offense that has struggled the past two games.

"We'll run [the ball]. I'm not concerned," said a confident Marchibroda. "Our team needs a week of preparation."

"Now the fun starts," said Harbaugh. "It gets more intense from here on out. There are going to be some bumps in the road, but I think everybody will be ready for it."

Next for Ravens

(First game of regular season)

Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

Date: Sept. 6

Site: Ravens stadium

Time: 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Tickets: Sold out

Coming tomorrow

Special section: A look at the new stadium.

Pub Date: 8/29/98

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