Flynn, Mulitalo a pair of aces

Ravens' guard duo toes offensive line

January 19, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

One of the Ravens' concerns going into the season was whether their new offensive guard tandem of Mike Flynn and Edwin Mulitalo could withstand the rigors of a 16-game regular season.

With three postseason starts added in, the pair has answered the call and then some.

They have blended in well with the rest of the offensive line, helped make room for rookie running back Jamal Lewis to run for 1,364 yards in the regular season and given quarterback Trent Dilfer the necessary time to still be playing in the season's final day come Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28.

"I think our guards have done a great job, especially with some very complicated run-blocking schemes," Dilfer said. "And they've played against some great tackles through this recent stretch and have been able to shut them down for the most part. They've been a big part of our success."

Getting comfortable came first, and success soon followed.

"At the beginning of the year, we had some ups and downs, so we had to go through some growing pains like you normally do. But we got better and better, and that's why we've done well," said Flynn, in his third season out of Maine.

"It is gratifying. We got to the pinnacle, which some guys never get a chance at. But we have one more step."

Flynn said the toughest adjustment in becoming a starter was opponents' having an easier time finding his weaknesses.

"After about five or six games, it seemed like teams were exploiting my weaknesses because they're studying film. Whereas before, when you're in a backup role, you may get in a game and then you may not play three or four games, so guys don't really study you," he said.

For Mulitalo, who became a starter in the second half of last season, it's a simple case of getting by one week at a time.

Despite suffering a minor concussion in Sunday's 16-3 win over the Oakland Raiders, the 6-foot-3, 340-pound former tackle from Arizona is ready for his biggest battle to date.

"Every week you're going to have dings and pains, but if you can eliminate those hurts by the next game - that's the key, to come in the next game fresh," Mulitalo said.

Establishing the running game and thus avoiding third-and-long situations is what Flynn believes will be the key against a New York Giants' defense he said has a lot of the same qualities as the Ravens'.

"They have some guys inside that hold the point, and their linebackers can run," he said.

"When they have eight guys in the box, you're not going to rip them a lot. So we got to get hats on hats and have Jamal maybe push through for what would be a normal 1-yard gain, you got to get two or three and so forth."

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