Again, QB Banks drops opportunity to produce victory

`I didn't get it done,' he says after 2 fumbles, interception doom Ravens

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

Tony Banks had just lost his second fumble of the day. A last-second chance at a comeback was history, the Jacksonville Jaguars were about to extend their record over the Ravens to 8-0, and the fans who weren't rushing to leave PSINet Stadium released their frustration by showering the Ravens' quarterback with boos.

Banks was unmoved by the fans' show of emotion after he had turned in the kind of feast-or-famine performance that left his coach shaking his head.

"I've been booed enough in my career to not let that bother me," Banks said. "The only thing that bothers me is knowing my teammates had faith in me to pull this one out and I didn't get it done. That's the story of the game."

Yesterday was the story of Banks' checkered, four-year career. A 214-yard, two-touchdown passing day was canceled out by two lost fumbles and a deadly interception. A near-flawless first quarter was followed by a fumble on the first play of the second quarter. A 46-yard pass play to Jermaine Lewis to set up a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter was followed by a lost fumble on his team's final possession.

The Jaguars' latest conquest can't be hung solely on Banks' lanky shoulders. But Banks, the third quarterback that coach Brian Billick has tried in 1999, bears much of the blame for another painful moment in the Ravens' tortured history against Jacksonville.

The defining moment came with just under 11 minutes left in yesterday's 30-23 loss. The Ravens, clinging to a 16-14 lead and starting on their own 21, called a screen pass to Errict Rhett in the left flat. Banks dropped back, looked for Rhett and lofted a pass that Jacksonville defensive end Tony Brackens sniffed out as he dropped into coverage.

Brackens, who had been blocked effectively all day by left tackle Jonathan Ogden, then became the latest Ravens killer as he rambled 21 yards for the touchdown to give the Jaguars a 22-16 lead with 10: 44 left.

That sequence caused a dramatic shift in momentum and left Billick's jaw temporarily in the drop position.

"The emotion on the sideline was one of semi-hopelessness. But, obviously, it wasn't total, because of the way the team came back and fought their way through it [to take another lead]," Billick said. "The interception was one of those things where, if [Brackens] plays it just right, the quarterback can get suckered into something like that."

To his credit, Banks rebounded by directing a 49-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession. First, he found the invisible Lewis for his only catch of the day to the Jaguars' 3. Then, Banks connected with fullback Chuck Evans on a 3-yard scoring play to give the Ravens a 23-22 lead with 6: 26 left.

But the Ravens could not hold the advantage. And for the second time, Banks could not hold onto the ball. On third-and-15 from the Ravens' 26, Banks was hit from his blind side by linebacker Kevin Hardy. He coughed up the ball, which Brackens recovered, putting the finishing touch on the victory.

Since taking over as the starter against Buffalo on Oct. 31, Banks had been taking better care of the ball. Then came the first play of the second quarter yesterday, with the Ravens at the Jacksonville 10 and attempting to stretch their early lead to 17-0.

Banks rolled out to his right, found no one open in the end zone, then allowed Brackens to strip him of the ball. Linebacker Lonnie Marts recovered. The Jaguars then marched 85 yards for their first touchdown.

"On that fumble, [Banks] knows that, on a one-man route, if that man is not open, he has to throw it away," Billick said. "He knew the minute he pulled it down, that he was wrong.

"The talent is clearly there [with Banks]. The want, the desire, the work ethic. You can only work on those things so much. You have to be aware of what things are going on around you. That's where the [Troy] Aikmans, the [Steve] Youngs, say no, it's not there, throw it away. It comes down to an individual focusing on things."

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