Allen's day might reach further than 108 yards

Best game as a Raven could temper criticism of him, running unit

October 08, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The coach and player had different opinions.

The topic? Vindication and whether Terry Allen achieved a certain level of it with his 108-yard effort in yesterday's 26-7 Ravens win over the Tennessee Titans at PSINet Stadium.

Beforehand, Allen was the focal point in criticism of the Ravens' running game, which started the season poorly against the Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals, then turned in an above-average effort against the Denver Broncos before dominating the Titans.

"Things were said that, if anybody knew what was really going on, they wouldn't have said them to start with," Allen said. "I'm not trying to vindicate anything. I'm just going out there and trying to help my team win."

Billick's opinion: "That's the most disappointing thing that has bothered me about some of the criticisms about Terry locally - he's here for one reason, and that is to be on a championship team. He doesn't need the yards, the money. He was real comfortable in his life. All he wanted to do is come service this team, and to be criticized sometimes for that is not something I enjoy hearing. This is a little bit of vindication for him."

Either way, Allen, 33, showed why Billick had faith in him and defended his talent even when the Ravens were struggling. Yesterday, Baltimore rushed for 207 yards - fourth most in team history - against Tennessee, showing the ability Allen said he knew he and his team had all along.

"Obviously, it makes us feel good that we're able to run the ball, but I think my offensive line did a great job. We just ran better; that was the only difference," he said.

Allen was the workhorse early, going for 6 and 7 yards on the first two plays of the game. He capped that opening drive with a 9-yard touchdown through the middle of the Titans' defense, setting the tone for the game. Eleven of Allen's 22 rushes were for more than 5 yards, nearly all originating between the tackles. Going into the game, Allen was averaging under 3 yards a carry.

"We came out ready to play," said Allen, who rushed for the 22nd 100-yard game of his 11-year career. "The offensive line was doing a great job coming off the ball, throwing and running. Things were just clicking.

"The running game, it takes awhile for it to jell. You're dealing with a new running back, different offensive linemen than what they've had before. I think it is coming together well."

Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe used the occasion to take good-natured shots at both the Titans and Allen.

"We got a 40-year-old running back that came out off the street and rushed for 100 yards," Sharpe said. "One of the guys over here asked Brian what happened to the running game. Geritol.

"All of a sudden, T.A. is getting to feel more comfortable with the system, with the offensive line."

That much was evident yesterday. The Ravens ran over a team that last season had the No. 1-ranked defense.

When Allen was not in, backup Jason Brookins provided little drop-off. Brookins rushed 15 times for 68 yards and a touchdown, much in the same hard-nosed manner of Allen.

"That's as talented a front seven as there is in the game," Billick said. "It's a physical, well-schemed group. Any time you can run the ball that well, it's going to serve our purposes very well."

Guard Edwin Mulitalo took it a step further.

"If we can run the ball like that, I guarantee we'll go back to the Super Bowl," Mulitalo said.

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