Ravens at Lambeau see field of dreams 10 1/2 -point underdogs face struggling Pack

October 25, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Maybe all the magic and mystery of legendary Lambeau Field can work in the Ravens' favor today.

When the Ravens (2-4) visit Lambeau Field to meet the Green Bay Packers (4-2), it will be the first visit there for quite a few of their players. And with the Packers favored by 10 1/2 points, a win for the Ravens might turn around the fortunes of a struggling team.

"We've heard so much about it, about all the great games that have been played there," said Ravens second-year linebacker Peter Boulware. "This is going to be a lot of fun. We'll be fired up to play because we've heard a lot about the tradition there."

And if the Ravens win .

"Oh, man, that would be so big for us, give us so much momentum," Boulware said. "A win would turn our season around and give us so much confidence that we would believe no one could beat us."

Said defensive end Michael McCrary, jokingly: "A win would give us light hope and cut down on all the negative media coverage."

Now, back to reality.

The Packers had won a club-record 25 consecutive games at home before losing to the Minnesota Vikings, 37-24, on Oct. 5. Green Bay, which lost to Detroit on Oct. 15, has lost two straight going into today's game, and quarterback Brett Favre struggled in both losses.

Green Bay needs a coming-out party. The Ravens have been invited.

"Well, you know, it's a tough road ahead of us," said Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren, whose team has lost two straight division games for the first time in three years.

"But we've been through this before, starting when we got here in 1992. This division is a strong one. We've won it the last couple of years, but prior to that it's always been very, very close very, very competitive.

"And now we've just got to right the ship and get it going in the right direction again."

It will be interesting to see how the Ravens defend against Favre, who may be the best at his position in the league. But in six games, Favre has thrown 10 interceptions, including nine in the past three games. He is starting to look human again.

The Ravens are a blitz-happy team with 22 sacks, and they have the type of defense that can give Favre trouble. Favre has been sacked 15 times.

"I've won the MVP the last three years playing the way I play," said Favre, whose team has outscored opponents 43-19 in the first quarter. "Why change? I don't think anyone wants me to change. This is a humbling job. You could play for 30 years and never conquer this game."

Green Bay has the great equalizer for the Ravens' defense. The Packers run a West Coast offense that features a lot of short passes and a three-step drop from Favre.

This is a great matchup.

"He's a three-time MVP -- what else do you need to know?" Ravens quarterbacks coach Don Strock said of Favre.

Said McCrary: "It's hard to get to him. The West Coast style is hard when you've got a good quarterback. You keep applying the heat with different kinds of things, you use a variety of assaults."

The game probably will hinge on Favre because the Packers have no running game. Green Bay has the 29th-ranked rushing offense, averaging 83.7 yards. The Packers started speedy Travis Jervey at running back against Detroit, and he was used exclusively to run outside. The Packers might start 6-foot, 230-pound Raymont Harris today, but he may not be dashing around the perimeter.

The Ravens could be without starting defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, who sprained his ankle Thursday in a nine-on-seven drill. Siragusa is listed as questionable after missing Friday's practice, the last hard day of the week.

"If I have my way, I'll be out there," Siragusa said.

The Ravens have to find a way to score, especially the offense, which hasn't contributed one touchdown in 10 quarters. The Ravens probably will have a tough time running the ball against Green Bay, which is tied for having the NFL's second-stingiest run defense, allowing only 85.3 yards.

Ends Reggie White and Vonnie Holliday and tackles Santana Dotson and Gilbert Brown comprise one of the best defensive lines in the league. The Ravens have struggled with a running game that averages 104.7 yards.

The Ravens aren't expecting a lot of blitzing. Green Bay likes to play a straight, regular defense, and Ravens quarterback Eric Zeier should get a chance to take advantage of Green Bay cornerbacks Craig Newsome and Tyrone Williams, who have struggled this season.

Zeier is the eighth-ranked quarterback in the AFC, having completed 99 of 162 passes for 1,278 yards and four touchdowns.

Pub Date: 10/25/98

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