Je. Lewis returns provide Ravens rare dividends


53-yard run off kickoff sets up team's only TD

Stover hits a winner

Ravens 13, Steelers 10

November 05, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

PITTSBURGH -- It was the type of game that return man Jermaine Lewis knew he would have to impact.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers' and Ravens' defenses ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the NFL heading into yesterday's game, offense was sure to be at a premium.

So Lewis picked up his team with 112 return yards, including a near touchdown miss on punt and kickoff returns in helping the Ravens to a 13-10 victory.

"The guys are blocking, and I was just hitting the hole," Lewis said. "The wind was a factor in the kicking game, but I think we did all right overall as a special teams unit.

"It was that type of game where the offense and defense were going back and forth, and I knew the special teams would affect the game."

The Ravens managed to stop a field-goal attempt by tipping the ball and also created enough holes for Lewis to average 36.5 yards on kickoff returns, including a 53-yarder in the first quarter that set up the team's only touchdown.

Lewis also averaged 13 yards on three punt returns.

"I think special teams showed up well," Lewis said. "We blocked [a] field goal, they missed field goals and we got good return yards."[The Steelers'] special teams unit, they are one of the top cover guys. I was just hungry, trying to get it up in there and create better field position for us."

Lewis hurt a knee on one return in the second quarter but came back to the game.

"I hyperextended it on a cut," Lewis said. "The grass kind of gave on me, and I my knee locked back. It's a little sore now, but I think I'll be fine."

Stover: Been there, done that

Kicker Matt Stover did something yesterday that he had not done in a while.

He kicked a game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.

"If you remember last year, we didn't have one," Stover said. "But we did have a lot of games that were won by field goals only. But I've been in that situation before. You rely on your experience and just get the ball through the uprights."

Stover actually made three field goals yesterday, but only two counted.

Stover's field goal at the end of the third quarter was disallowed because time had expired. In fact, time had expired for about five seconds, but the officials never blew the play dead. So Stover went ahead with the kick. After Steelers coach Bill Cowher brought it to the officials' attention, Stover had to kick his 25-yard field goal again.

"I'm telling Kyle [Richardson, holder], `I don't want to kick it because the time has expired,' " Stover said.

"I knew we were going to have to kick it over. I expected that right after I kicked it. I never went off the field."

Running game hits bump

Running back Terry Allen missed his second straight game with a sprained ankle. Jason Brookins started in his place and rushed for 40 yards on 16 carries.

It was an off day overall for the Ravens' rushing game, which came in eighth in the league but finished with just 41 yards on 26 carries, a 1.6-yard average.

"We couldn't get the running game going, but when we needed to pound the ball, we did it," Brookins said. "That last drive, the offensive line stepped up big. We did what we had to do to win. It is not always going to be pretty. Nobody is going to go out and say we didn't run the ball well. We ran the ball well because we won the game."

Starks feeling burned

Cornerback Duane Starks was visibly unhappy with his performance.

Starks was responsible for the Steelers' only touchdown, which came on a 21-yard pass from Kordell Stewart to Plaxico Burress with 21 seconds left in the first half.

Starks led the Ravens with 12 tackles, but those came in large part after giving up receptions. In the locker room after the game, Starks said he needed a day before he could talk about what happened.

Cunningham stands down

With Ravens starter Elvis Grbac scheduled to come back from a rib injury next week, Randall Cunningham might have started a game for the final time in his 16-year career. If he did, he finished 14-for-22 for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception. More importantly, he led the Ravens back from a fourth-quarter deficit for the second straight week.

"I don't know," Cunningham said. "And I'm not to overly worried about it. I'm enjoying the game, I have a smile on my face. Regardless of what happens, I'm going to keep on going."

Liking Heinz difference

Safety Rod Woodson played many memorable games in his 11 seasons with the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium. He was not, however, missing Three Rivers yesterday while playing his first game at new Heinz Field.

"It is a nice stadium," Woodson said. "It's got grass, so that's great. It is long overdue for this city that they have something that is nice."

Ravens coach Brian Billick did not care where the game was played, as long as it was in Pittsburgh.

"I love playing in Pittsburgh," Billick said. "Besides the fact that I've never lost here, it's just football. You come and the fans are great against always a good Steelers football team."

Winning bet, not game

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