Ismail, Taylor widen Ravens' highway

In sync with QB Grbac, wide-outs pump offense in Broncos-Titans spree

Ravens 26, Titans 7

October 08, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Qadry Ismail and Travis Taylor could offer the Tennessee Titans a refresher course in Chemistry 101.

Extending a groove with quarterback Elvis Grbac that was on display last week in Denver, the two wide receivers proved instrumental again in formulating a 26-7 home win against Tennessee yesterday.

Taylor, last season's No. 10 pick in the draft, caught five balls for 80 yards, including a leaping grab of an underthrown pass for a 34-yard gain in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Ismail pulled in three passes for 93 yards and scored on a 77-yard deep route in the second period.

"It was a situation where we had some good matchups, and we were able to take advantage of those matchups," Ismail said. "I guess you can say we were working on all cylinders."

On the other side of the field, Titans quarterback Steve McNair threw only one ball to his wide receivers - a 7-yard pass to Kevin Dyson with 25 seconds left in the first quarter. McNair's 16 other passes went to his running backs and tight ends.

Since Taylor was named to start opposite Ismail before the Broncos game, the wide receivers have demonstrated just how dangerous the Ravens' passing game can be.

In the 20-13 victory over the Broncos a week ago, Ismail and Taylor combined to haul in six passes for 134 yards and each posted a touchdown.

Continuing their streak of success yesterday, Ismail and Taylor ran tight routes and found gaps in a Tennessee defense generally regarded as one of the stingiest in the league.

In fact, on Ismail's touchdown at 10:05 of the second quarter, the Titans tried to shut down the Ravens' running game, leaving one-on-one coverage on the corners. Ismail simply outran former Ravens teammate DeRon Jenkins, caught Grbac's pass in stride, and walked untouched into the end zone.

"They like to play that aggressive defense," Ismail said. "Sometimes, it's a killer. We were able to maintain our poise, Elvis got great protection from our line and good things happened."

Taylor's best grab occurred at the 11:07 mark of the final period. Racing down the right sideline, he braked hard as Titans cornerback Andre Dyson continued running forward and jumped to catch an underthrown pass. Taylor also scooped up 14 yards on a reverse later in that quarter.

Their performance overshadowed tepid outings from Brandon Stokley and Patrick Johnson, both of whom didn't record a single reception. Stokley dropped two passes, and Johnson broke his collarbone on his only catching attempt late in the fourth quarter.

While Taylor and Ismail were quick to credit the power running of Terry Allen and Jason Brookins for drawing the Titans safeties closer to the line and opening holes downfield, both wide receivers also said they feel as if they have found a comfort zone with Grbac.

"I think it has a lot to do with the quarterback," Taylor said. "If he throws it to me or Qadry, he knows that we're going to jump up and come down with it or get a pass interference penalty. Any time a quarterback has confidence to throw the ball to you, you're going to do well."

Grbac, who connected on 15 of 31 attempts for 259 yards, returned the favor by complimenting Ismail and Taylor.

"As a quarterback, you're always going to talk about rhythm and timing with your wide receivers," Grbac said. "They made a lot of great plays. ... That's very encouraging for the quarterback."

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