Fans do their part to silence opponent

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Lowering sound level helps players hear calls

snaps almost disastrous

Notebook

Ravens 18, Jaguars 17

October 29, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Instead of hearing screaming fans, center Mike Flynn heard a low buzz.

In their two previous games, the Ravens attempted to come from behind in hostile environments on the road. Yesterday's attempt came in a much friendlier atmosphere and concluded with two fourth-quarter touchdowns for an 18-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at PSINet Stadium.

The offensive line, which yielded seven sacks last week in a loss to the Cleveland Browns, struggled early yesterday, giving up four in the first half to the Jaguars.

But with the Ravens down by 11 and forced to primarily pass in the fourth quarter, the line buckled down and kept quarterback Randall Cunningham from getting sacked on the final two drives.

The success, in part, came from playing at home, which allowed the line to hear the calls, especially in the final quarter.

"It's a lot better here than getting the crowd noise. That wears you down," Flynn said.

Kipp Vickers started for the first time at right tackle, and left guard Edwin Mulitalo returned from a knee injury that kept him out the previous two games.

The Ravens' pass protection started off as ragged as in the previous game, with the added problem of the offense producing just 14 first-half yards. The Jaguars showed an array of blitzes, which forced Ravens running backs to block linebackers, so Jacksonville left tackle Gary Walker spent much time in the backfield.

But the home team rushed for 100 second-half yards, and Cunningham completed nine of 11 passes.

"We were doing well in the first half, but we just made some mistakes at vital times," Flynn said. "They were doing a lot. They were putting their linebackers in there, trying to blitz. But once we got going running the ball, then we played pretty well."

Hard to get a handle

Centers Flynn and reserve Orlando Bobo each had a bad snap during the game-winning drive. Each fumble was recovered by Cunningham.

Flynn, whose right thumb was taped after he suffered a torn ligament in the previous series, said the injury initially prevented him from gripping the ball properly, resulting in the mishandled snap on the first play of the decisive, 44-yard drive.

Bobo, who caused his mishap on the fourth play of the drive at the Jacksonville 22, said he simply brought the snap in too low and Cunningham couldn't get his hands on it.

"Randall Cunningham got down there really quick," Flynn said. "I mean, when it gets right down to it, he saved our butts today."

Wake-up call

Jaguars receiver Stacey Mack's 11-yard touchdown catch for a 17-6 fourth-quarter lead might well have been the back-breaker had he not made the crucial mistake of spiking the ball into a crowd of Ravens fans.

The Ravens, said tight end Shannon Sharpe, took that as a wake-up call and a much-needed slap in the face.

"Once he did that, we had no choice. We had to defend our home turf," Sharpe said. "We really appreciate that gesture for getting us fired up. We were kind of sleepwalking emotionally, but [for motivation] you really didn't need much more than that."

Little guy, big play

The Ravens had first-and-10 at the Jaguars' 16 when diminutive return man Jermaine Lewis made a crowd-pleasing, 14-yard run.

The 5-foot-7, 180-pound Lewis took off around the right side, broke a couple of tackles and dragged at least two defenders for about 5 yards for a first-and-goal at the 2.

Jason Brookins took the ball in from there, but Lewis made an impression with his teammates.

"You look at Jermaine, and here's a guy who is [180] pounds, and when he got hit, he just kept driving, kept driving, kept driving until he got the first down," Sharpe said. "I knew we were determined then, and I think the offensive line saw that. That was impressive."

Kight's kickoffs

Danny Kight, the team's newest player, sent three of four kickoffs into the end zone, but he wasn't satisfied. He wanted to be perfect.

"First kick, I didn't get all of my foot on it. It was a little short, got to the 10 or the 11, somewhere around there. It was a good hang time, good kick, but I just told myself to relax," Kight said.

"The rest of the time, I was getting the fat part of my foot on the ball. Matt Stover congratulated me on my game. I felt like part of the team. I felt great, considering the win today, but I'm not satisfied with those kicks. I can do a lot better."

The Ravens made room for Kight by placing tackle Leon Searcy on injured reserve after he reinjured his triceps muscle last week.

Kight, acquired for kickoffs because Stover has a strained quadriceps muscle, is a former semipro player and soccer player who was with the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers before coming to Baltimore.

"He was huge, the way he pumps up the guys. A big factor today," said coach Brian Billick.

No argument on TD

Few of the Jaguars disputed the call that permitted Qadry Ismail's game-winning touchdown catch with 4:21 left in the game.

Wide receiver Jimmy Smith said he couldn't tell from his vantage point whether Ismail had caught the ball before it hit the ground.

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