Confident Starks shakes off bad dayalong with shoes Rookie maintains poise

Ravens notebook

Marchibroda endorses players-only meetings

November 10, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

Duane Starks smiled sheepishly while reflecting on a day in which he slipped in more ways than one.

The Ravens' rookie cornerback saluted Oakland wide receiver James Jett, who produced most of his 92 receiving yards against Starks during the Ravens' 13-10 victory over the Raiders on Sunday.

"I didn't play as well as I could have," said Starks, who made his first professional start against Oakland. "I think I was anxious. I gave [Jett] a lot of respect covering him deep. He got the best of me this time. There's always next time."

Next time Starks suits up -- on Sunday in San Diego -- he will be changing his shoes. He had noticeable difficulty keeping his feet against the Raiders. Starks considered trying a new pair during the contest.

"I'm going to calm down, relax, get some new cleats and play hard," Starks said. "I didn't lose any confidence at all. I don't think I'll ever lose confidence in my playing ability. I've been down before, but at any given time, I can make a great play."

"The thing I like about [Starks] so much is he keeps his poise," said safety Stevon Moore. "He didn't explode and he didn't drop his head. He just kept fighting. This guy is a competitor who never stops playing hard."

Starks did recover in time to intercept a Hail Mary pass from Raiders quarterback Donald Hollas on the final play.

Team gets some calls

In addition to their own futility, the Ravens have dealt with their share of questionable calls this season. On Sunday, they lived on the other side of officials' favors.

Late in the first half, Hollas appeared to score a touchdown by breaking the plane of the goal line on a sneak from the Baltimore 1. Then, Rod Woodson knocked the ball out of Hollas' hands. As running back Harvey Williams picked up the loose ball and ran left, middle linebacker Ray Lewis tumbled over the pile of bodies, got up and ran down Williams a yard short of the end zone. The Raiders settled for a field goal.

Then came the game's bizarre ending. With the Raiders lined up at the Ravens' 40 and time running out, Oakland faked the Ravens into thinking it would try a game-tying field goal. The Ravens first sent their field-goal block team onto the field, then changed up by sending their regular defense out to defend the final play.

After Starks' interception, officials huddled to discuss whether the Ravens had too many men on the field. Had the Ravens been penalized, Oakland would have been granted one more play, since a game cannot end on a defensive penalty. In the end, the game was ruled over.

A review of the game tape revealed otherwise.

"We had 13 men on the field," Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said.

As for the ruling on the Hollas "touchdown," Marchibroda smiled and said, "I didn't think he got in."

Players' meetings continue

Ravens defensive tackle James Jones and Marchibroda said the team will continue the player-only meetings every week. The Ravens had their first one last week after losing 45-19 to Jacksonville. While some critics have downplayed the meeting, Marchibroda encouraged them.

The meetings were pretty intense with several players raising their voices a couple of times.

"It took some initiative on their part," said Marchibroda. "They have realized that we had some problems and they have worked to correct it."

Jones would not talk about this week's meeting, but said the last one was positive.

Really special teams

Marchibroda was especially pleased at the discipline the Ravens showed Sunday. They drew only four penalties and committed one turnover. And their special teams, which have been a breakdown waiting to happen on most Sundays, came up big.

Their coverage teams were excellent. The Raiders never began a drive past their 32. Punter Kyle Richardson averaged 45.6 yards on five attempts. Kicker Matt Stover shook off a missed 41-yard field goal early to make two field goals, including a 30-yarder in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner.

"It isn't always how much [special teams] help you, but how much they don't hurt you," Marchibroda said.

Turner contributes

Veteran receiver Floyd Turner got into the action on Sunday -- barely. Replacing the injured Jermaine Lewis, who left with a concussion early in the fourth quarter, Turner caught a critical, 11-yard pass over the middle for a first down. The reception came during the Ravens' final possession, when they ran off nearly five minutes trying to protect their slim lead.

Turner, who has caught only 10 passes this year, is not exactly celebrating his contribution in 1998.

"I'm happy to help out on a win, but as far as not playing, that's hard to take," Turner said.

Brady back in action

Backup safety Donny Brady was inactive for the game against Jacksonville, but he made his presence felt against the Raiders. Brady had one special teams tackle and forced a fumble on a punt early in the game.

Brady said he was inactive against the Jaguars not because of an injury, but because of the numbers game.

Miscellaneous

The wives of the Ravens' players raised $31,000 and collected 14,000 pounds of food at Sunday's family food drive. The Ravens will leave on Friday afternoon for San Diego.

Pub Date: 11/10/98

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