Near-miss no solace to defense


Burnett, McCrary step up, find no satisfaction

Ogden silences Smith, speaks up

November 01, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht and Brent Jones | Gary Lambrecht and Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Rob Burnett and Michael McCrary were not interested in hearing about how inspired the Ravens' defense was for another Sunday afternoon.

Few players this side of middle linebacker Ray Lewis (game-high 14 tackles) performed as well as Burnett and McCrary in yesterday's 13-10 loss to Buffalo at PSINet Stadium.

McCrary recorded five solo tackles, including his first sack in four games. Burnett added three solo tackles, batted away two passes and had a sack. They were two of the main reasons the Ravens held Buffalo to 249 yards of net offense and kept the Bills at bay for more than 58 minutes.

But they were the picture of dejection after Buffalo, on the improvisational ability and spry legs of 37-year-old quarterback Doug Flutie, put together a game-winning, 45-yard touchdown drive.

Burnett shook his head when asked if the defense has grown weary of trying to bail out a Ravens offense that was averaging barely two touchdowns a game.

"Our job [as a defense] is to stop them. If we've got to pitch a shutout, that's what we have to do," Burnett said. "That's what they're paying us to do. This [loss] is on us today. We blew it."

Burnett's lasting memory of yesterday's loss will be of Flutie, having been contained all afternoon, turning defeat into victory on that final drive. His 17-yard run to the Ravens' 22 on fourth-and-15 bruised the Ravens' spine. His across-the-field scramble, followed by a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Linton, broke their backs.

"[Flutie] is a dangerous dude, especially in the pressure situations," Burnett said.

Said McCrary: "It's a weak, sickening feeling to know we worked all day as hard as we did, and we let something like that happen."

Ogden meets Smith test

Left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden took a significant step forward in his recovery from a severely sprained neck a month ago.

Facing future Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, Ogden did not allow a sack. Ten days after looking tentative in a 35-8 loss to Kansas City, Ogden also looked much more relaxed and loose with his run blocking. And he did it without aggravating the injury.

"I tweaked [the neck] a little bit, but it was so minor I didn't even worry about it," Ogden said.

Ogden also let his frustration show with a prolonged tirade following an interception by Tony Banks with 13 minutes left and the Ravens leading 10-3.

Banks was hit as he tried to throw the ball away, and the pass floated to Kurt Schulz, who returned it 26 yards to the Ravens' 34.

"I was just frustrated because I thought the momentum was shifting. It's very frustrating when you can't score after scoring early," Ogden said. "You know if you give Doug enough chances, he's going to get you."

No attack, no Johnson

The Ravens' offense has managed 27 points in the past three games. On the season, the team has used three quarterbacks and a varying rotation of wide receivers -- which surprisingly did not include Patrick Johnson yesterday. And in all but one game, the Ravens have failed to top the 200-yard mark in passing yardage.

"These guys are all going 110 percent, but the chemistry is not there," right guard Jeff Blackshear said. "We've got guys who haven't played together that long, but being professionals, you've still got to practice hard, play hard and make some big plays."

"We've got to keep playing hard together," said Errict Rhett, who rushed for a game-high 73 yards. "We've got to beat our men deep, block the blitzers, give ourselves a chance to win. [Brian Billick] has proven he's a great offensive coach. As players, we have to put it together."

As for Johnson spending the day behind him on the sideline, Billick said, "He was not part of the sequencing today."

Getting a leg up

Punter Kyle Richardson continued his outstanding season by punting seven times for a 47.7-yard average. He placed four punts inside the Buffalo 20, marking the fifth time he has done that in a game this year. His 24 punts inside the 20 lead the NFL.

On the receiving end

Wide receiver Justin Armour said the Ravens' receivers were held by the Bills' defensive backs yet received no calls, except for the ones against them.

Qadry Ismail was hit with two offensive pass-interference penalties and Armour with one, prompting Armour and Billick to question how that is called.

"I think they pulled those calls right out of the middle of the how-to-ref book," Armour said. "I don't know where it's been all year. That is the NFL game, pushing and holding. It was just the fact that it was so lopsided.

"If they want to call some pushing off, that is fine. But we have guys on our backs 12 yards down the field, grabbing on our jerseys. At one point I looked over and I saw Q's jersey coming over his head like a hockey player."

Ismail was called for pushing off, negating a 13-yard gain late in the third quarter. He was hit with his first one midway through the second quarter, which was declined.

"I guess I'm still trying to learn, after a number of years in the league, what pass interference is," Billick said.

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