Case drills home perseverance

No. 3 quarterback learns on-the-field lessons

August 29, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens quarterback Stoney Case went around the world of football fortune in nine minutes last night.

One minute, there was Case, getting blind-sided by a blitzing safety, losing the ball and watching the Panthers turn his fumble into a touchdown. The next minute, there was Case, finding wide receiver Justin Armour for a huge play to set up a Ravenstouchdown.

One minute, there was Case, making coach Brian Billick furious for allowing the clock to wind down to the two-minute warning without getting off a play. The next minute, Case was enjoying the last laugh.

By hitting wide-out Billy Davis on a slant-in that, in the face of an all-out Carolina blitz, suddenly turned into a game-winning, 41-yard touchdown completion in the Ravens' 28-24 victory, Case left his stressed-out coach smiling.

"I was very pleased to see Stoney Case come in and, under very tough circumstances, do some good things," Billick said. "He's a very confident, smart, calm young man. He knew what he was doing."

Case didn't do badly for a guy who has been with the team for just 12 days. Consider that, just two days after the Ravens signed him, the first practice assignment for Case was to run the two-minute drill.

That baptism came in handy last night, when Case, who had entered the game with 9: 25 left, was in charge as the Ravens trailed 24-22, and took over on their own 28 with 2: 30 left to play.

Before Case connected with Davis with 17 seconds left, he had his problems. First, he infuriated Billick by allowing the clock to wind down to the two-minute warning before running a play. The Ravens were saving their last timeout for a possible, game-winning field goal. Then, he settled for a five-yard completion to Floyd Turner instead of spiking the ball, as Billick was signaling from the sideline.

"I was concentrating so hard on the plays. I heard [Billick]. I was looking at the clock, looking at him, running plays through my mind," Case said. "I know everything about this offense. It's just a matter of getting it a little quicker."

Case was plenty quick on the game-winner. He said the play was called, with a blitz anticipated. Had the blitz not come, Case would have thrown to the left side. Instead, he found Davis one-on-one with cornerback Cliff Shamburger. Mismatch. Davis slanted in, caught the pass, beat Shamburger and was gone.

Things did not go that easily at the start. Nine plays into Case's first drive, he dropped back on a third-and-11, got crushed from the blind side by safety Lee Wiggins, and coughed up the ball. Defensive end Antonio England picked up the fumble and ran 58 yards for a touchdown that gave Carolina a 24-16 lead.

Case answered on the play from scrimmage by hitting Justin Armour for a 49-yard gain to the Panthers' 15. Four plays later, running back Jay Graham pulled the Ravens to within 24-22 with 3: 31 left.

Then came the two-minute drive, in all of its confusion.

"Time does not allow you to be as gentlemanly or eloquent [on the sideline] as you would like," Billick said. "Stoney was asked to implement and understand some aspects of the offense. That is awfully ambitious to think you can do that after just a week and a half or two weeks."

Said Case: "Two days after getting to camp, I'm running the two-minute offense. Tonight, I'm running the two-minute offense to win the game. I had everything happen to me that could possibly happen tonight."

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