Ravens won't lament loss of 12-game winning streak

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

`We have a long season'

McAlister sees return work

homecoming awaits Sharpe

Bengals 21, Ravens 10

September 24, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

CINCINNATI - Eventually, the Ravens were going to taste defeat.

Maybe that's why there was no panic and not a lot of anger in the Ravens' locker room after the team's 21-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Bengals ended the Ravens' 12-game winning streak, which had been the longest in the NFL.

"Around here, from last year, people got accustomed to winning," said linebacker Ray Lewis, whose team had not lost since the last weekend in October.

"So you lose one game, it's not like, `Oh God, we're down this dark road.' We lost three in a row last year. So I think our thing is to understand that we have a long season, take it that way. Understand that all greatness wasn't just an uphill road. There is a curve in the road."

Guard Edwin Mulitalo agreed with Lewis about how last year's experience will help the team deal with yesterday's loss.

"We went through a rough time last year and came out of it," Mulitalo said, referring to the three straight defeats in October and 21-quarter touchdown drought. "But we'll savor this taste and get past it."

Safety Rod Woodson gave credit to the Bengals for playing a good game but also said the Ravens, after six turnovers, won't beat high school teams unless they are more careful with the ball.

"We're a better football team than that, and I think they know that. But if we go out there and play the way we did [yesterday], then we're going to be 1-15," Woodson said.

McAlister pitches in

With Jermaine Lewis out because of a hamstring injury, cornerback Chris McAlister got his first chance to return punts.

McAlister, who returned kicks his senior year in college but did not have the chance in his two previous years with the Ravens, averaged 8.8 yards on five attempts against the Bengals.

His most impressive run came on his second attempt when he eluded a couple of tackles and sprinted up the sideline for 24 yards.

"It was all right," McAlister said. "I got my chance, and I had fun."

Cornerback Duane Starks, who is usually Lewis' replacement, got in his first game action since hurting his knee in the preseason.

Sharpe homecoming

With the game over, tight end Shannon Sharpe can start preparing for his first return to Denver.

The Broncos and Ravens play Sunday at Denver's new stadium, Invesco Field at Mile High.

"It's going to be strange being back in Denver because a lot of the fans I'm going to see on the sidelines, I was with them for 10 years," Sharpe said. "They were cheering for me. All of a sudden if you do something good, they'll boo you. It will be strange, but I'll be ready. I'm looking for the challenge."

Line shuffle

By the end of the game, the whole right side of the offensive line was revamped.

Bennie Anderson had replaced Kipp Vickers, and Erik Williams was in for an injured Sammy Williams. Both moves occurred in the second quarter, and both players were seeing their first regular-season action with the Ravens.

"It's a lot different than preseason," Anderson said. "It's a lot faster, that's for sure. Like anything, though, you catch up with the tempo."

Erik Williams could muster little else other than to say, "I'm tired," after the game in assessing his and the team's performance. It was Williams' first game since last December, when he was with the Dallas Cowboys.

Seeking clarity

Coach Brian Billick had plenty of time to decide whether to challenge what was close to a Todd Heap touchdown catch in the second quarter.

Heap caught a 6-yard pass from Elvis Grbac near the back of the end zone before tumbling out of bounds. The officials ruled Heap did not have possession of the ball in time. Billick called a timeout before the Ravens' next play, but chose against going to the replay.

"We had no clear view of it," Billick said. "So if I have no clear [view], I've got to assume the officials don't. There are so many variables, was he out, bobbling? The view we saw and had upstairs, you couldn't tell. So again, they rule the one way, and it had to be conclusive, and we saw no view to contradict that."

Attention to detail

A mental note paid off for cornerback Alvin Porter.

Porter noticed Bengals punt returner Peter Warrick was not calling for fair catches early in the game, leaving himself open to big hits.

So Porter provided a Ravens highlight when he hit Warrick a split second after the ball landed in his hands, which caused a fumble the Ravens recovered at the Bengals' 17 at the end of the third quarter.

It led to the Ravens' only touchdown of the day.

"The first time we punted to him, [James] Trapp got a big hit," Porter said. "I saw [Warrick] wasn't fair-catching. At the time I got my hit, they single-covered me and doubled the other side. I took it as a sign of disrespect if you are going to double the other side and single me. I felt if I could beat this guy, I was going to make a play, and that is what happened."

End zone

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