Running back Jamal Lewis' remarkable rookie season could hit another chord of high notes Sunday when the Ravens close the regular season against the New York Jets.
With 1,312 yards, Lewis needs 88 more to become just the 11th rookie in NFL history to rush for 1,400. He and backup Priest Holmes (581 yards) need 107 to combine for 2,000 this season.
Only Minnesota Vikings running back Robert Smith and quarterback Daunte Culpepper have combined for more (1,954).
Finally, a big game could help Lewis catch the Denver Broncos' Mike Anderson in the race for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Anderson, a sixth-round draft pick, leads Lewis in rushing yards (with 1,415) and touchdowns (13-6).
But Lewis has more total yards (1,608-1,584) and has outrushed Anderson in the second half of the season, 875-739.
If Lewis were named NFL Rookie of the Year, it would activate a $100,000 performance bonus in his contract.
"It might be nice, but it's just an individual award," he said. "What would sure be great recognition is if we go and win the Super Bowl."
Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe spent 10 years in Denver and is familiar with the Broncos' offensive system. He cast a vote for Lewis yesterday.
"Obviously, [with] Mike, it's the system," Sharpe said. "So if it's the system, they can plug in a guy off the street and get a couple hundred yards less than what Mike Anderson has. But could we get a guy off the street and do what Jamal does? I don't think so. From that perspective, I would say Jamal.
"Would I trade Jamal for any of the rookie running backs? No, not even Mike Anderson."
Going, going, gone
It took only 18 minutes yesterday to sell the final 2,500 tickets for the first playoff game in Ravens history. Those tickets, ranging in price from $55 to $270, became available at 10 a.m.
The first 67,000 tickets were purchased by the team's season-ticket holders.
If the Ravens go into the postseason as the fourth seed, they will play at PSINet Stadium on Dec. 30 or 31. If they go in as the No. 1 seed (a win vs. the Jets combined with a Tennessee Titans loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night), they will play at home on Jan. 6 or 7.
Without departed wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, two of the Jets' top three receivers are backs - Richie Anderson (77 catches) and Curtis Martin (62). Quarterback Vinny Testaverde has thrown for 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions out of the team's spread offense.
"I think he might miss Keyshawn," said Ravens safety Kim Herring. "A lot of times, Keyshawn makes plays on the ball. They let him do a lot of things that maybe they don't let [Wayne] Chrebet do."[Vinny] has gone downfield, but he hasn't necessarily hit all his passes downfield. He takes his opportunities, but sometimes those opportunities are taken away by the defense."
Punt returner/wide receiver Jermaine Lewis, who missed last week's game because of a death in his family, will resume his normal duties Sunday. ... Ravens opponents have combined for a record of 94-133 (.414) this season. ... The Ravens are second in ESPN.com's power ranking this week, only behind AFC Central rival Tennessee. ... Kicker Matt Stover is 15-for-15 in December-January field-goal attempts since a 45-yard attempt in Chicago on Dec. 20, 1998, was blocked. ... The Jets returned 200 $35 tickets for Sunday's game. Those tickets go on sale this morning at 10 through TicketMaster (410-481-SEAT) or on the Internet and www.ravenszone.net.