Kickoff coverage annoys Billick


`It's got to get better'

Harris, Richardson lauded for efforts vs. Broncos


October 02, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens coach Brian Billick was as relaxed as he has been this season, pleased with his team's 20-13 win at Denver Sunday.

That is, except when the topic of kickoff coverage came up.

"It's got to be better," Billick said. "We can't give up 100 yards or so. We are addressing that [in meetings] vigorously. Good thing [the media] weren't there because my mother would have fined me about $4,500."

The fine would have presumably been for the amount of curse words Billick used when watching the kickoff coverage film, one of the few areas in which the Ravens struggled.

The Ravens gave up 165 yards on five kickoff returns to the Broncos' Kevin Kasper. It seemed like on every return, there was a seam for Kasper to shoot right through.

"It was a combination of their aggressiveness and our lack of aggression," fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo said. "Getting out of certain lanes had effects on that. It's something that we can clean up. Special teams is an attitude."

The Ravens' kickoff return unit was just as poor as the kickoff coverage. Jermaine Lewis averaged 18.3 yards on three returns.

"We'll spend a great deal of focus on it," Billick said. "And I imagine we'll be pretty good. Then there will be the next brush fire.

"We were just not aggressive enough. [The Broncos] do a lot, and I think our guys got too caught up in reading what was going on. They were throttling down and reading too early, rather than attacking. And we've got to get back in that attack mode."

The Ravens will have little time because the Tennessee Titans' Derrick Mason, considered one of the top three return men in the league, is up Sunday at PSINet Stadium.

Harris steps up

Billick awarded a much-deserved game ball to safety Corey Harris for his performance Sunday.

Harris was third on the team with seven tackles, and sealed the win by intercepting a Brian Griese pass with 1:32 left. Harris, the only new starter on defense from last year, has played consistently all season.

"Corey is going to kill the coaches because he has had two of the best games I've ever seen him have with virtually no training camp," Billick said of the safety, who stayed home to be with his wife after her August brain surgery. "There is going to be a real lobbying from everybody to say, `Let's blow off training camp and go right into the season.' Corey, particularly with all the situations that he is dealing with, was just outstanding."

Billick extended the same compliment to punter Kyle Richardson, who averaged 48.4 yards on the day. "That was probably the best day of punting I've seen him have since I've been here," Billick said. "Changing the field-position battle for us is absolutely huge."

Richardson had a 65-yard punt, second longest of his career.

"I was seeing the ball really well, had a good rhythm about me," Richardson said. "Plus being in Mile High, that definitely added to the distance. But I had a good stroke. The ball was coming off my foot like I wanted it. There were a lot of things that went my way."

Big-play Ogden

Jonathan Ogden went for the big play.

With Broncos defensive tackle Chester McGlockton barreling toward the end zone after picking off an Elvis Grbac pass on the game's opening play, Ogden decided he would try to get the ball back for the Ravens. Instead, McGlockton went down at the Ravens' 3 after a 17-yard return.

"I was going for the strip," Ogden said, laughing. "I knew Chester couldn't avoid me. I figure I might as well go for the strip. He fumbled the ball, but it was out of bounds."

Troubled Titans

For the first time in three years, the Titans (0-2) are wounded.

And Billick knows it.

"This is a team that hasn't lost three in a row since 1998," Billick said. "This is a team that is 26-6 over the last two years. Just about everybody, along with maybe Denver, said these are the best two teams in the AFC in going to the Super Bowl.

"I know [Titans coach] Jeff Fisher well enough, the resolve he has and the class in that organization. They certainly don't think of themselves as out of it. But I'm sure they are tapping into the emotion and understand what an 0-3 start would mean."

Extra points

Ayanbadejo suffered a Grade 1 sprain of his right medial collateral ligament in the second quarter. He was able to continue but will be day-to-day this week. Billick said tight end Todd Heap's high ankle sprain is "coming along" and he may be able to practice this week. ... Tight end Shannon Sharpe will be the host for the second annual Benelogic/ESPN Zone Gridiron Halloween party Oct. 30 from 8 p.m. to midnight at the ESPN Zone. Proceeds from the event will benefit Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc. ... The Ravens named City football coach George Petrides the High School Coach of the Week. The Ravens Champions of the Week are Emily Medina of Garrison Forest High School and P.K. Fisher of St. Paul's.

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