Ismail starts slow, finishes in flash

After struggling early, receiver hits for long TD

November 13, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In the midst of his finest pro season, Qadry Ismail took a while to warm up to the bright lights of Monday Night Football.

The Ravens' offense was a fiasco for most of three quarters during their 16-10 win over the Tennessee Titans, and Ismail played his part.

He wasted the best penetration of their first five drives with that rarest of penalties for a wide receiver, roughing. On their first possession of the second half, he turned a pass from Elvis Grbac into a 17-yard gain, but then fumbled the ball away, setting up a short Titans drive that got the game's first points.

But with the Ravens and Titans both putting out incredible shrinking offenses, Ismail stepped up and made one of the biggest plays of his nine-year career.

With the Ravens down 10-3 and on their 43-yard line as the third quarter wound down, Ismail took a short pass from Grbac on the left flank, cut to the middle and followed a convoy of blockers to the right sideline and into the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown that returned momentum to the Ravens.

The play started with Ismail beating cornerback DeRon Jenkins, a former Ravens teammate with whom he had tangled in the second quarter.

After Joe Nedney missed a field-goal attempt, completions to Travis Taylor and Ismail moved the Ravens to the Titans' 26. Terry Allen lost a yard and left the game with a hand injury that turned out to be a fracture, but the immediate pain came in the form of a 15-yard penalty against Ismail.

On a wrestling mat, Ismail would have gotten two points for his takedown of Jenkins. On the football field, it was a rare bonehead play for a veteran who is having a career year.

Ismail's third-quarter fumble occurred as he attempted to break tackles and add yardage after moving to the Ravens' 47-yard line.

On the Ravens' only touchdown, Ismail got key blocks from Taylor on Samari Rolle and Shannon Sharpe on Perry Phenix, the latter a blindside beauty.

Ismail busted open the Ravens' 26-7 rout of the Titans at PSINet Stadium last month with a 77-yard catch and run from Grbac. Last night's big play marked his fourth 100-yard game of the season, as he represented the Ravens' biggest offensive weapon.

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