Boulware switch on defense ends up being big hit


Linebacker goes to line, sacks Jags' Brunell twice

rookie Heap catches up

Ravens 24, Jaguars 21

November 26, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The position was as familiar as the state.

Peter Boulware yesterday returned to Florida, where he was a standout for Florida State. And against Jacksonville, the Ravens switched him from linebacker to his college position, defensive end, in their 24-21 victory over the Jaguars at ALLTEL Stadium.

With usual starting right end Rob Burnett out with a calf injury, Boulware played the entire game at that position for the first time in his five years with the Ravens.

Boulware usually plays end in obvious passing situations, so the transition was an easy one for him. To top it off, the Jaguars were forced to pass on most downs after trailing much of the first three quarters, simplifying Boulware's responsibility to something engrained in him at Florida State - get after the quarterback.

"It felt like [being back at FSU], rushing every play, getting up the field," Boulware said.

Boulware had two sacks and five tackles against the Jaguars. He came into the game with 5.5 sacks, including one in the Ravens' previous meeting with the Jaguars.

Brad Jackson took Boulware's spot at strong-side linebacker in the base defense.

"I felt pretty good out there, but I'm still a little rusty, though," Boulware said.

"But this is the type of game I like rushing in, one in which you know the quarterback is going to take deep drops."

Boulware was actually the most experienced defensive end for the Ravens. Michael McCrary is out for the season with a knee injury, which elevated Adalius Thomas into the starting lineup for the second time in his career.

Kelly Gregg and Shannon Taylor rotated in, with Sam Adams switching from tackle to the outside on some downs.

Gregg was active for just the third time this season, and Taylor also is a converted linebacker.

"We just kind of threw it together," Boulware said. "But we did a decent job of getting to the quarterback. There were a lot of young guys out there, a lot of guys who had never played there before. But we just do whatever it takes to win."

Drawing blood

Ravens coach Brian Billick looked more like a player than a coach after entering the post-game news conference with a bloody nose.

Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, in his exuberance after the Ravens' game-winning touchdown in the final seconds, head-butted Billick.

"If you're wondering, I got head-butted by Goose. It was a hell of a win over Pittsburgh, I mean Jacksonville," Billick said.

Heap productive

Ravens tight end Todd Heap had to fill Shannon Sharpe's shoes in practice last week, and it ended up paying off for the rookie.

Heap finished with three catches for 39 yards, including a 20-yarder to the Ravens' 41 on a third-and-two during the second drive of the game. The play helped set up Matt Stover's 41-yard field goal for the Ravens' first points.

Yesterday was Heap's best game since he sustained a high ankle sprain in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

That injury kept Heap out three games and slowed him the past four. This was his first multiple-catch game since Cincinnati.

"I feel like I'm getting better each week," Heap said. "I was still struggling with it, but after [yesterday], I feel like I can put it behind me."

Fewer big plays

Overall, the Ravens did a far better job than they usually do of containing Jaguars receivers Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith yesterday.

The two combined for 13 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown, but the longest catch was a 26-yarder by McCardell.

"We eliminated the big plays," cornerback Duane Starks said. "If we eliminate the big plays, we come out on top."

Chris McAlister drew the assignment of containing Smith, following him much of the time no matter which side of the field he lined up on.

In the first Ravens-Jaguars game this season, McCardell and Smith combined for 27 catches for 237 yards.

Dazed, but not down

Receiver Qadry Ismail was dazed, but aware enough to know he had better get off the field.

Ismail took a major shot from Jaguars safety Ainsley Battles on the Ravens' game-winning drive. Quarterback Elvis Grbac found Ismail at the Ravens' 1-yard line for 16 yards with 36 seconds left. Ismail was hurt, yet still managed to get off the field so Grbac could spike the ball. The Ravens had just one timeout left and would have been forced to use it had Ismail not gotten up after the hit.

"You know you can't take an injury timeout [in the last two minutes]," Ismail said. "I had some presence of mind. I was a little bit dizzy more than anything. My head was hit. I just got off the field. The rest of it was one heck of a touchdown."

Coach as TV critic

CBS broadcasters Gus Johnson and Brent Jones received a rough greeting from Billick. Going back to the Ravens' loss last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Billick was upset that Johnson and Jones described Grbac as shedding a tear on a close-up shot of the Ravens quarterback.

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