Offensive line finally gets in gear

Ravens notebook

`In sync' with QB Grbac, group steps up in victory

Pro Football

November 27, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Lost in the late-game heroics by Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac was the time he was given to pass on the winning drive.

The Ravens' offensive line had one of its best showings of the year in Sunday's 24-21 road victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, culminating in a nine-play, 74-yard touchdown march during the final two minutes in which Grbac was hit just once.

The Jaguars were rushing only three men on that drive, but throughout the game, the line gave Grbac enough time to complete 21 of 30 passes for 259 yards and created enough running room for backs Jason Brookins and Moe Williams to combine for 113 rushing yards.

"The offensive line is where it's all at," Grbac said. "[Tackle] Kipp Vickers played a great game, everybody played a great game. This was probably the one game where I was more in sync with the offensive line and what they were doing up front than any game, and it was evident going down the stretch."

The Ravens gave up two sacks, the only real negative to an otherwise stellar performance.

Bennie Anderson and Vickers played the entire game on the right side. Both seemed to have become entrenched at their respective positions after rotating with Sammy Williams through much of the season.

The stability is showing on the field.

"From the tape, we did a lot of good things, but we also did a lot of bad things," left guard Edwin Mulitalo said. "Brookins ran hard, and that helped us a lot, making our job a lot easier.

"The car is running good, but we still need a tuneup. We need to focus a little bit more on some of things we need to get done to be a championship-caliber team."

More Grbac kudos

A day later, Ravens coach Brian Billick was still raving about Grbac. Billick was just as impressed with Grbac's demeanor before the game-winning drive as he was with the execution of it.

"The thing I liked about Elvis is that going into that situation, it wasn't just a `Rah, rah, let's go get 'em guys,' " Billick said. "When we were on the sideline, just before he went in, he had some definitive ideas. It was, `Let's do this and this.' That's a good sign. That means he's focused and he has some specific ideas to what he wants and what he thinks will be successful."

Understanding Mora

Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora ripped his team after its 40-21 loss to San Francisco on Sunday. Billick, whose Ravens face the Colts on Sunday at PSINet Stadium, understood why.

Winning 21-20, the Colts allowed the 49ers to run off 20 straight points in the second half en route to their third straight defeat.

"After a week of intense preparation and three hours of the most physically, mentally draining part of your life, win or lose, we want you to stand in front of a bunch of people and tell us what you think," Billick said. "I don't know who came up with that original idea, but I guarantee you he never coached."

Mora said the Colts' performance was "absolutely pitiful," and has lowered the team's expectations from making the playoffs to simply winning another game.

The Colts (4-6) were one of the preseason favorites in the AFC East.

Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning tossed four interceptions against the 49ers.

Extra points

The Ravens and Colts have the two best records in December over the past two seasons. The Ravens are 7-0, the Colts 7-1. ... Indianapolis lost in its previous game against the Ravens, 38-31, on Nov. 29, 1998, at PSINet Stadium. ... Ravens receiver Qadry Ismail is on pace for a career year, projected to have 80 catches, 1,207 yards and seven touchdowns. Ismail's career highs came in 1999, with 68 catches, 1,105 yards and six touchdowns. ... The Ravens' past four wins have been by a combined 13 points. ... The Ravens have outscored their opponents by only 11 points overall (198-187), but that includes a 79-42 edge in the fourth quarter.

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