Herring's ankle only major pain amid the cheers


Ravens strong safety left on crutches by sprain

`demons' are exorcised

Ravens 21/broncos 3

January 01, 2001|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Instead of celebrating the Ravens' first playoff win like the rest of his teammates, Kim Herring left the locker room on crutches.

The Ravens' strong safety was the biggest casualty yesterday and is questionable for Sunday's game at Tennessee with an ankle injury. He hurt his left ankle on the opening kickoff of the second half, getting his leg tangled with teammate Brad Jackson.

"Right now, it's a pretty bad high-ankle sprain," Herring said. "It's basically see how it is Wednesday or Thursday. We really have to wait until a lot of the swelling goes down."

Is Herring optimistic on returning for Sunday's divisional game?

"I'm going to try to be, considering that not too many ankle injuries have kept me out for long periods of time," he said. "But this is a new one for me."

Herring's backup, Corey Harris, played the entire second half and finished with one tackle and one pass broken up. His only regret is letting a ball that was made for an interception go through his hands in the third quarter.

"When it's your turn, you got to step it up," Harris said. "You want to be able to come in and not let the guys down that go to war with you every week."

Herring was injured in an unusual fashion. He was beside Jackson, who was tackling Byron Chamberlain, and got hurt as a bystander.

"He just made a play," Herring said. "I can't fault him for that. Next time, I just got to learn to get out of the way."

Payback time

Ravens owner Art Modell wasn't giving interviews after the game, but team vice president Ozzie Newsome reflected on what beating the Broncos meant to Modell and others who had been with the team in Cleveland.

"This one is not only gratifying for him because it's Baltimore's [first] win," Newsome said, "but it also exorcises some of the demons from his past."

Demons such as three AFC championship losses to Denver in the 1980s and 10 losses in 12 games against the John Elway Broncos. As long as Elway was playing quarterback in the Rocky Mountains, Modell knew there was always someone better in the AFC than his Browns.

"That team kept him out of a few Super Bowls," said defensive end Rob Burnett, one of three remaining Ravens from the Cleveland era. "It was gratifying for us to win this one for him. This one removes a bitter taste from his mouth."

At the game's conclusion, Ravens president David Modell embraced Earnest Byner and spoke to his director of player personnel.

Byner's fumble late in the 1987 AFC Championship game enabled the Broncos to hold on and advance to the Super Bowl. Yesterday's victory helped ease that bitter memory, too.

Windy city

How wild was the wind at PSINet Stadium?

Just when the specialists thought they had the 27-mph gusts gauged, Mother Nature would change her mind. The wind was at Matt Stover's back when he sent a kickoff 8 yards deep into the end zone after the Ravens' first touchdown, in the second quarter, and it led to a 16-yard punt by the Broncos' Tom Rouen in the third quarter. The wind then changed direction and aided a couple of Kyle Richardson's punts in the fourth quarter.

Richardson, whose first attempt was blocked by Keith Burns, salvaged a 38.3-yard average, thanks to efforts of 66 and 50 yards. Stover, the All-Pro kicker who has one field goal in each of the last 26 regular-season games, was never called upon to make an attempt.

"It's great to know that we won without any field goals today," Stover said. "Anywhere you have bodies of water, you're going to have changes in the direction of the wind. I spent five years in Cleveland and five years here, so I'm used to games like this.

"As a kicker, you've got to hit the ball clean. You can't duck-hook or anything like that. The ball was falling off the tee [on Denver's opening kickoff], so I automatically had a guy hold the ball."

Others were not as accustomed to the conditions.

"It was the hardest [wind] I've ever played in, and I've played in some windy days," Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer said. "This wind was bitter cold and it was swirling. You always seemed like you were throwing the ball into the wind. Every ball you threw, it would start off spinning and halfway there it started wobbling and going end over end."

Griese's a no-go

Brian Griese was listed as the starter on the Broncos' official roster despite the fact that he'd thrown only two passes since Nov. 13 and had suffered a separated shoulder in last week's 38-9 victory over San Francisco.

But Gus Frerotte was introduced as the starter, and that's who played. And exactly when that decision was made depends on whom you asked.

Frerotte claims not to have known until Saturday that he was the one who would get the nod; Griese said he knew much earlier.

"I took a lot of reps all week, but we had to see how Brian felt," Frerotte said. "Mike [Shanahan] came to me on Saturday and said Brian probably won't start. That's how we did it."

But that's not what Griese says.

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