Ja. Lewis wears out Giants `D'

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Rookie gains 102 yards, pounds N.Y. in 2nd half

Ismail makes catch count

3 rings for Swayne, Sharpe

Ravens 34, Giants 7

January 29, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. - Jamal Lewis heard the critics.

The Ravens' rookie running back was supposed to be worn down and wouldn't be able to crack the Giants' run-stopping defense. But Lewis plowed ahead for 102 yards on 27 carries and scored a touchdown as the consistent threat in the Ravens' offense last night.

"People said we couldn't run on this defense," Lewis said. "But I like to prove people wrong."

Lewis, the fifth pick in the draft, was injured as a freshmen when Tennessee won the national championship in 1997. So, he took extreme pleasure in winning the Super Bowl as a rookie.

"I'm pretty much spoiled," he said. "I can't expect anything less. I know what it takes."

Making it count

An hour after the game, Qadry Ismail was still in uniform. The veteran wide receiver is one of the Ravens' best talkers, and he couldn't resist stopping for a minicam or two. There was also the matter of visiting with his brother Raghib, who plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

The Giants seemed stunned by the Ravens' vertical passing attack, and while Ismail had just one catch, it did go for the longest play from scrimmage in the game. The Ravens faced third and short on its own 20, and New York was looking at a 7-0 halftime deficit, until Dilfer found Ismail down the left sideline for a 44-yard gain. It was Ismail's longest reception since the Nov. 12 win at Tennessee, and it nearly went for a touchdown.

Cornerback Dave Thomas, in one-on-one coverage, let Ismail get behind him.

"It wasn't that I was looking for that matchup," Ismail said, "but I think they were bold to leave him singled up out there. As a receiver, if you don't win that battle, then they are going to play that style of defense all day. I knew that Brandon [Stokley], Patrick [Johnson] and myself were going to be singled out, because they were doubling up on Shannon Sharpe. That would give us time to do what we do best."

Thomas did make a touchdown-saving tackle when he got a hand on Ismail, which in effect held the Ravens to a Matt Stover field goal.

"I was about to put it into fifth gear," Ismail said. "If my knees had been high enough to avoid that last swipe of my feet, then it would have been six."

Three and counting

For Harry Swayne and Sharpe, capturing their third Super Bowl rings was the happy ending to an arduous season.

Swayne and Sharpe both won their first two championships with the Denver Broncos in Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII. But Swayne, the right offensive tackle for both the Broncos and the Ravens, said there was no comparison between his first two rings and the third.

"This one is much sweeter because of the way we did it," said Swayne, a 14-year veteran who also played for the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. "In Denver, we were kind of picked to do it. Nobody expected us to make it here. ... It's just a great feeling."

All of the attention the Giants paid to Sharpe limited him to one catch for five yards, but the venerable tight end was not at a loss for words. He said he valued all of his championships equally, but noted that this season was wrought with more hurdles.

"It is just hard to put into words when you put so much into it like we did, the adversity we went through and supposedly all the distractions that we had with Ray [Lewis], which were never really a distraction to us, only to the media," the loquacious Sharpe said. "I told the fans of Baltimore, `Get ready to celebrate by 9 o'clock because we are going to be world champs.' "

Yesterday morning, Sharpe visited with defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis.

"I asked him how many points he needed in the first half," Sharpe said. "He said `give me 10 early.' Regardless if they ever have any Hall of Famers, that is the best 11 guys [on defense] ever assembled in the NFL. If Marvin Lewis is not a head coach next year, I will retire from football."

Thanks, Shannon

Stokley, who caught a pass for Baltimore's first touchdown, credited Sharpe for making it possible.

"They tried to take him out of the game because he had made so many plays for us," Stokely said of the Giants' defensive game plan. "That left us some great matchups and we took advantage of them."

Stokley, a second-year player from Southwestern Louisiana, had three catches for 52 yards, and said he thought the few big plays the Ravens had provided a wake-up call for the rest of the league.

"A lot of people sleep on us," Stokley said. "We wanted to make a statement ... I'm just thrilled that we won. "

Richardson kicks in

Unnoticed during media week, punter Kyle Richardson grabbed a bit of the spotlight last night.

The fourth-year punter booted four punts inside the Giants' 20-yard line, pinning the NFC Conference champs deep in their own territory. The Giants subsequently went three-and-out on two of those possessions and three of those possessions led to 17 Ravens points.

Richardson, who averaged 40.2 yards a punt and finished with 39 punts inside the 20 this season, said his performance in last night's game was no surprise to him.

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