Penalties hurt, but Chargers had more San Diego hit 16 times for 146 yards, but Ravens unable to take advantage

Ravens Notebook

November 16, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- For all of the talk about the way penalties dominated yesterday's excruciating, 14-13 loss to the Chargers, the Ravens faced up to another unpleasant fact.

They aren't even good enough to win a game the opponent tries to hand to them.

As undisciplined as the Ravens were, what with 106 yards in penalties going against them, the Chargers were even more horrendous. San Diego attracted 16 infractions at a cost of 146 yards.

Sound familiar? Back on Oct. 11, the Tennessee Oilers committed 141 yards worth of penalties. But the Oilers managed to prevail, 12-8, on a day that started a slide the Ravens still can't stop.

"That tells you some people have to look in the mirror," said strong safety Stevon Moore, alluding to an offense that refuses to come out of its shell.

"We've got guys who just aren't getting the job done. We've got to be able to put the ball in the end zone. I'm tired of seeing us in first-and-15, third-and-18. If a guy is not playing [well], get somebody in there who is."

Said rookie cornerback Duane Starks: "We can't blame the coaches. We can't blame the refs. We can only blame ourselves."

Burned again

Starks likes to gamble. The Chargers certainly figured that out. With 3: 04 left in the first half, San Diego quarterback Craig Whelihan pump-faked as receiver Charlie Jones began a stop-and-go move that caught Starks hopelessly out of position along the right sideline.

Jones gathered in a 47-yard pass for a score that put San Diego on top 7-3 at halftime. That marked the second time in two consecutive starts that the Ravens' first-round draft pick had been burned for a touchdown.

"They caught me gambling," Starks admitted. "I went for the pump. [Jones] ran a pretty good route. It was my fault. I can't blame it on anyone else. I'll be trying not to let that happen again."

Starks did come back to force a fumble and bat away two passes.

Meanwhile, the Ravens got another solid performance from third-year cornerback DeRon Jenkins, who was benched two weeks ago in favor of Starks. Jenkins, who had three solo tackles in the nickel-back position, played consistently well in man-to-man coverage. He also flew into the backfield to drop Terrell Fletcher for a 4-yard loss to force a San Diego punt prior to the Ravens' final possession.

Violent reunion

The Chargers call strong safety Rodney Harrison "The Hit Man," and it was evident Harrison was eagerly awaiting the return of Ravens tight end Eric Green.

Green returned to the lineup after missing last week's game against Oakland with a badly dislocated pinkie on his left hand. Although he led the Ravens with four receptions, he suffered the wrath of Harrison on several occasions, most notably on his first catch of the game.

After snaring a 7-yard completion from quarterback Jim Harbaugh, Green went airborne after a nasty, blindside hit delivered by Harrison. It marked the first of several Harrison-to-Green completions.

"Me and Rodney always are going at each other," said Green, who produced 35 yards. "Anybody can hit you hard when you're not looking. Times like that, I want the ball even more so I can run him over."

Green taped his middle, ring and pinkie fingers together before the game. He said he didn't feel comfortable catching the ball, but added that his discomfort had nothing to do with the mistakes he made -- notably an offensive pass-interference call on the Ravens' final possession.

"I think we did some good things [on offense]," Green said, "but we can't keep beating ourselves by jumping offsides, committing pass interference, stuff like that. You've got to take control of the game."

Nice prediction

Ravens kicker Matt Stover took some serious heat from a few offensive players after predicting last week that the Chargers, sporting the league's top-ranked defense, probably would make life tough for the Ravens, who have the AFC's most punchless offense.

Turns out the kicker had a pretty good read on yesterday's action. The Ravens produced a grand total of 161 yards and eight first downs and converted just two of 15 chances on third down.

On top of that, Stover held up his end of the bargain. He went 2-for-2 on field-goal attempts and added an extra point to record seven points on the day.

Frederick saga

The disappearance of Mike Frederick reached another stage, as the backup defensive end missed his fifth straight game with a lower-back injury.

Frederick was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1995, a a third-round pick out of Virginia. The Browns envisioned him as a pass-rushing threat. Frederick ranks second on the Cavaliers' all-time sack list with 26.

He has had no such impact in the NFL. Over his four-year career, Frederick, 6 feet 5, 280 pounds, has started just 12 games. Most of his limited playing time in 1998 has been on special teams. And in the five games he has played this year, he has yet to record a tackle.

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