Stover has vision of going toe-to-toe with Carney Sunday Kickers could play big role in game against Chargers

Ravens notebook

November 13, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens kicker Matt Stover envisions the scenario: Sunday's game against the 3-6 Chargers is destined to boil down to a one-on-one contest between Stover and John Carney.

With the two lowest-scoring offenses in the AFC squaring off, a battle of kickers certainly is not a far-fetched notion. Stover took note of San Diego's top-rated defense, coupled with the Ravens' chronically ineffective red-zone offense.

"Due to the fact that we haven't been able to put touchdowns on the board, I know every point counts in this game," Stover said. "With their defense and our offense, I think [the Chargers] are going to stop us quite a few times."

Stover, who has converted 12 of 18 field-goal attempts this season, tipped his hat to Carney, who has been one of the better specialists in the league during his 12 seasons. Carney is having an outstanding season, having converted 16 of 18 field-goal attempts, including nine of 11 from beyond 40 yards.

"John is consistent, and he can make a big kick for you," Stover said. "I know going into San Diego, you'll have pretty forgiving weather there. I'm looking forward to kicking in those situations."

J. Lewis learns hard way

Quick. Name the only player on the Ravens' offense to score more touchdowns than cornerback Rod Woodson.

Wide receiver/punt returner Jermaine Lewis has scored five times, three via receptions, two via punt return. And Lewis is heading back to Qualcomm Stadium, where he had a memorable outing in Week 5 of the 1997 season.

That day, Lewis caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Vinny Testaverde. He also returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, although the score was nullified by a clipping penalty.

Lewis made both plays after suffering a concussion at the hands of San Diego strong safety Rodney Harrison. He nailed Lewis after he made a leaping stab at an overthrown pass down the middle.

"I saw that hit coming, but I still had to reach for the ball. You can't pull up and not go for it," said Lewis, who left the game in the fourth quarter last week with another concussion.

"You learn from hits like that, and I had to fix the way I ran that route. Getting hit like that is part of the game. But the big thing is I came back with the touchdown and the big kick return."

Top linebackers on display

They will never line up to face each other on Sunday, but the Chargers game offers another comparison between franchise linebackers -- Ray Lewis and Junior Seau.

Seau, a nine-year veteran, has played in seven consecutive Pro Bowls. Lewis, a three-year veteran, played in his first Pro Bowl last year. Lewis was originally voted in as an alternate.

Remember teammate Bennie Thompson's locker room tirade upon learning that Lewis wasn't selected as a starter last December? Thompson isn't biting this week. Neither is Lewis.

"People are going to bring it up, but I'm not going against Junior," said Lewis, who is returning to his relentless form while recovering from an elbow injury. "My job is to stop Natrone Means and the San Diego offense. I just want to keep playing football and staying healthy.

"I guess the way to compare us is to look at our stats. The way we're similar is we're trying to get to the ball on every play."

Seau leads the Chargers with 67 tackles, including 55 solo. He also has a fumble recovery and 1.5 sacks. Lewis, despite missing two games, leads the Ravens with 64 tackles, 48 solo. He also has two sacks, five pass deflections and a forced fumble.

Not ready for Prime Time

Second-year reserve cornerback John Williams recently changed his number to 21, which is Williams' way of paying homage to Dallas superstar Deion Sanders.

Williams has a long way to go to begin approaching Sanders' stature, but at least the Ravens' youngster is improving on special teams.

In the victory over the Raiders, Williams recovered a fumble caused by teammate Donny Brady in punt coverage. Williams has committed numerous glaring mistakes in that role. Twice this year, he has been flagged for interfering with a punt returner after he had signaled for a fair catch.

"I'm trying to help the team by staying more under control," said Williams, who ranks second on the team with 10 special teams tackles. "I'm a second-year player, and if I'm playing special teams, I have to cut down on the mistakes. It bothered me to have penalties affect the game like that. I can't make plays that jeopardize the team."

No-name defense

Other than Seau, try naming a player on the Chargers' top-ranked defense, which is allowing merely 68.4 rushing yards per game, tops in the NFL.

Well, there's 13-year veteran inside linebacker Kurt Gouveia, playing some of his best football in recent years. Rodney Harrison, who leads the team with three interceptions and is second with 62 tackles, remains one of the league's more intimidating hitters. Left tackle Norman Hand leads the line with 32 stops and four pass deflections and leads the team with five sacks.

"They have a very aggressive front seven. Their inside guys are very physical [up front]. Their outside guys [ends Marco Coleman and Raylee Johnson] play their technique well, and their linebackers are just fast and athletic," Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "It's what a good defense is all about -- stout inside players and speed everywhere else. That's what they have."


To beat San Diego, the Ravens should jump on the Chargers early. San Diego has been outscored in the first quarter, 45-9. The Ravens rank fifth in the NFL with 30 sacks. The Ravens have scored 68 points in their three victories, and only 66 points in their six defeats. Last week's 13-10 win over Oakland marked the first time since the start of the 1997 season that the Ravens have won by scoring fewer than 18 points. They are 1-11-1 when they fall short of 18 points.

Pub Date: 11/13/98

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