Fumble sours Potts' day of opportunity Revival of one-back set puts focus on fullback

Ravens Notebook

P. Johnson gets first TD

November 02, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht and Vito Stellino | Gary Lambrecht and Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Ken Murray contributed to this article.

Fullback Roosevelt Potts had been waiting for a game like this. A game that would allow him to flex his 250-pound bulk as a featured back. A game that would allow him to set a tone.

The Ravens went back in time against Jacksonville by resurrecting their one-back set in yesterday's 45-19 shellacking. They opened on offense by sending tailback Priest Holmes to the flanker position, leaving Potts alone in the backfield. That forced the Jaguars to cover Holmes with an outside linebacker, which opened up more room for Potts, who took advantage of his chance.

On the Ravens' second possession, Potts broke off a 33-yard run that marked his longest run since Sept. 3, 1995. That sparked a 73-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Jermaine Lewis, pulling the Ravens into a short-lived, 7-7 tie.

"The coaches did a good job of preparing us. We had a pretty good game plan," Potts said. "I felt like the offense could have stood toe-to-toe with [Jacksonville] today."

But, in a first half that featured three Ravens turnovers and a blocked punt that went for a touchdown, Potts did his part in the worst way. With the Ravens trailing 21-7 early in the second quarter, Potts caught a pass in the right flat, where linebacker Bryan Schwartz stripped him of the ball, then recovered the fumble. The Jaguars soon increased their lead to 28-7.

"When I caught it, I didn't tuck it [away]," Potts said. "If I do that another seven times, that doesn't happen. I was just careless."

A first for rookie receiver

Rookie wide receiver Patrick Johnson enjoyed a personal highlight with 4: 30 left in the game. Johnson caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jim Harbaugh, the first score of Johnson's pro career.

Of course, Johnson wishes he had been as sure-handed in the first half. With a little over four minutes left in the half, Harbaugh threw a perfect pass down the middle to Johnson on third-and-18. Johnson dropped the pass that would have been good for a first down.

On the next play, Kyle Richardson's punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Alvis Whitted, giving Jacksonville a 35-7 lead.

"The game might have been different if I had caught that ball," Johnson said. "I'll think about that tonight."

Closed practices no help

Coach Ted Marchibroda closed practice to the media last week to supposedly help the team focus, but wide receiver Michael Jackson said the team didn't practice flawlessly.

"We had what everybody would have expected, one bad practice out of the week," Jackson said. "When I said to be expected, it's not to be expected by us, but it is the reality. We addressed it and we thought we were through that. I'm not going to say that had any effect on what happened."

Jackson took consolation in the fact that the Ravens stayed three games behind the Steelers, who fell to 5-3 by losing to Tennessee.

"It looked like [the Oilers] kept us in the hunt still. We've still got a chance," Jackson said.

Boselli vs. McCrary

The Tony Boselli-Michael McCrary matchup was lost in the rubble of the blowout, but both players had their moments in the long-standing rivalry.

At left tackle, Boselli kept the Ravens' pass rusher off quarterback Mark Brunell in the first half. Boselli even scored one "pancake" when he put McCrary on his back.

But McCrary got a second-half sack and totaled six tackles to lead the Ravens' defense. He has 29 sacks in his last 30 games, including 8 1/2 this year.

"I continue to say he's one of the best pass rushers in the NFL," Boselli said, "and one of the best all-around defensive ends. To play him, it takes a lot of heart. We see who knocks out who."

Boselli has an advantage, too, because Brunell is left-handed, so McCrary's not coming from his blind side.

"When you come inside as a defensive end, as soon as he sees you, he can run outside. That helps a little bit, but Boselli is definitely one of the best left tackles in the league," McCrary said.

McCrary said he and Boselli didn't talk too much.

"I wanted to keep it a nice war," he said. "We spoke after the game. There's mutual respect for one another. It's always a good battle. I've got a lot of respect for him. But it's definitely a battle; we're going at each other's throats."

Jaguars jinx?

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden likened the Ravens' 0-6 record against the Jaguars to a jinx. Ogden looked at the crazy evidence -- first-half turnovers and the questionable calls that went against the Ravens early.

"I'm kind of flabbergasted at some of the stuff that happened in the first half," Ogden said. "It seems like somebody has put a hex on this team.

"We had fumbles, we got a fumble that [the officials] didn't give to us. We can't have those things happen to us, especially when we play Jacksonville. We need positives."

Et cetera

Going into the game, the Ravens were 8-3 since the start of the 1997 season when they scored more than 18 points and 0-11-1 when they scored fewer. They got 19 this time, their third-highest total of the year, but it didn't make any difference. In six games against the Ravens, the Jaguars have scored 30, 28, 28, 29, 24 and 45 points.

Pub Date: 11/02/98

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