Late drives show Cunningham still has gas left in tank

Ravens backup QB directs two drives for TDs in fourth quarter

Packers 31, Ravens 23

October 15, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It may have been garbage time, but the two fourth-quarter touchdown drives yesterday still felt good to Randall Cunningham, the Ravens' backup quarterback.

Cunningham, replacing starter Elvis Grbac, who suffered a concussion, led the Ravens on back-to-back scoring drives that cut the Green Bay Packers' lead to the final score of 31-23. On the second, Cunningham ran it in from 11 yards out.

"It keeps me confident knowing that I can still do what I've always been capable to do when given the chance," Cunningham said. "A backup's job is a very difficult job because you don't run the plays, and the coordinator has to adjust the offense to you.

"The good thing is I have good guys to work with and they have respect for the things I'm able to do."

Cunningham finished 5-for-10 for 70 yards passing with four carries for 40 yards and a touchdown.

On the touchdown run, Cunningham said, "I had a flashback to when I was 23. God gives you gifts. To be able to do that stuff at 38, I just look at myself as an energetic person who loves this game."

Brookins scores, seethes

Jason Brookins was angry at a time a more selfish player would have been pleased.

Brookins scored a late touchdown yesterday on a 1-yard run. It was the second touchdown of his career.

After scoring, Brookins walked around the end zone, stared right at the Packers' fans and let them know what was on his mind.

"They were booing, so I told them to shut up, and I spiked the ball," Brookins said. "I was just letting out a little anger. I was mad at everything; we were behind and we could have played better than how we played."

Brookins said he was even mad at himself, though he was one of the Ravens' few bright spots on a forgettable offensive day.

He had 33 yards on nine carries, which helped complement Terry Allen's 75 yards on 18 carries. On Brookins' touchdown run, which came with 2:56 left and cut the Packers' lead to 31-17, he used a combination of speed and power as he ran through a defender to get into the end zone.

Brookins also had back-to-back 10- and 9-yard runs at the end of the third quarter.

Darren has sharper edge

Packers safety Darren Sharper has bragging rights again over his brother, Jamie, of the Ravens.

Darren Sharper also had it three years ago, when his Packers beat the Ravens, 28-10. Yesterday, he recorded an interception on the Ravens' opening drive in the third quarter.

The two brothers had 30 family members in attendance, and talked briefly after the game.

"He was real happy that they won," Jamie Sharper said. "From now on, he's going to be talking junk until we play them again. Every time I talk to him, he's going to say something about it.

"He made some good plays out there. He showed why he is a good safety in the league. I was just happy for him."

Stover ties record

Matt Stover tied Fred Cox's NFL record for consecutive games with a field goal at 31 with a 28-yarder in the third quarter.

It was Stover's only attempt.

"I visualized all week that the kick to tie the record would be the one to beat the Green Bay Packers," Stover said. "It helped us a little bit, kept us in the game."

Vickers gets start

Kipp Vickers started in place of injured Edwin Mulitalo at left guard for the Ravens.

Mulitalo missed the game with a sprained knee but should return next week.

Not wasting time

Cletidus Hunt didn't waste any time in his first game back from a league-mandated suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. With 4:59 left in the first quarter, Hunt recovered a ball fumbled by running back Obafemi Ayanbadejo at the Green Bay 41-yard line. The Packers followed with a nine-play, 59-yard drive to tie the game at 7.

"I feel real good," Hunt said. "To get back out there in my first week and get back into the rotation and practice, it felt great."

Hunt, who missed the first four games, returned to practice early in the week and worked with the first defensive unit Friday in place of Vonnie Holliday, who has been nursing a groin injury.

Though Hunt did not start, he did see extensive playing time.

Tale of the tape

Tight end Bubba Franks, who caught a pair of 2-yard touchdown passes for Green Bay, said the Packers planned all week to spread the Ravens' defense across the field. He said the team knew this would work after seeing film of the Ravens' 17-6 victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 1.

"Earlier in the week I saw they had a weakness in their defense," Franks said. "Chicago proved that by going five wide and spreading the field.

"Our game plan was to spread the field on their defense and keep going at them and going at them."

Franks wasn't the only one who thought the Packers would excel with this strategy. Quarterback Brett Favre said offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said earlier in the week that the Packers would reach 400 total yards against the Ravens' vaunted defense.

They came close, as Green Bay compiled 391 yards in total offense.

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