Mulitalo kicks himself for jumping

Ravens notebook

Guard won't soon forget being suckered by Sapp

Monday comes on strong

Pro Football

January 01, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Guard Edwin Mulitalo knew the play, knew who was on the other side of the line and knew he'd better get off the ball quickly.

Unfortunately for Mulitalo, his anxiety made him fall for one of the oldest tricks around, courtesy of Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp in the Bucs' 22-10 win over the Ravens on Saturday night.

Sapp induced Mulitalo into a false start in a third-and-goal situation a yard from Tampa Bay's end zone early in the fourth quarter by yelling a word before the snap.

The mistake pushed the Ravens back to the Bucs' 6, and quarterback Elvis Grbac could not connect with tight end Todd Heap on the ensuing play.

The Ravens settled for a 24-yard field goal by Matt Stover that cut the lead to six, but were unable to get back into Tampa Bay territory the rest of the game.

"Out of that whole game, I remember me going offside on the goal line," said Mulitalo, who was matched up primarily against Sapp for the game. "That thing is going to haunt me for a while. [Sapp] said `backside' real loud. After he got me, he came up to me and said, `How do you like my backside?' I was like shut up."

Mulitalo said it was a rare verbal exchange he had with Sapp, known for both his trash talking and dominating play.

Sapp found his way into the Ravens' backfield on a number of occasions, but overall, Mulitalo held his own when he was matched up against him.

"He's the toughest pass-rusher I've faced," Mulitalo said. "His motor was just going all the time, and his intensity level was out of the box. I did some good things against him, but for an offensive lineman, you only remember the bad things."

Even bigger game

The first Monday night game in Baltimore since 1978 might have an even greater significance.

With the Ravens possibly needing a win to make the playoffs, the situation surrounding the game against the Minnesota Vikings is likely vastly different than if the game had been on Sept. 17, as originally scheduled. The game was postponed because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"I'm excited for the city of Baltimore Monday night, and the situation that is going to present itself," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "They've been waiting a long time for that, due to a lot of different circumstances, obviously.

"What are the odds of fate letting us have a game of this magnitude to get into the playoffs, on a Monday night for the first time in Baltimore in what, 30 years? I think that's wonderful."

It will be the fourth night game of the season for the Ravens, who are 1-2 thus far. Billick stressed to the team the importance of keeping active during the day.

"On all of our night games, what I watch for is how we conduct ourselves," Billick said. "Are you lethargic? Are you energetic? ...

"I told the guys going into this game that whatever you do in the previous night games, do the same thing because I think our energy level, focus, passion was all there."

Healthy overall

The Ravens left Saturday night's game virtually injury-free.

Grbac sustained bruised ribs and a sore groin muscle, but should be fine for the Vikings game. Nickel back James Trapp, who did not play Saturday, is the biggest concern for the Ravens. Trapp hurt his groin Nov. 4 in Pittsburgh, re-injured it Dec. 16 against the Steelers and has not played since.

The Ravens also expect to have running back Jason Brookins, who practiced for the first time last week since breaking a bone in his foot Nov. 25 in Jacksonville.

Effort on display

The number of upsets and near upsets in the NFL Sunday left Billick pleased about being part of a league now defined by parity.

Of note, the Buffalo Bills, winners of two games before Sunday, beat the New York Jets, and the lowly Cincinnati Bengals beat Pittsburgh, the best team in the AFC. The Vikings, with their third-string quarterback, also held a lead over Green Bay midway through the fourth quarter.

"I think it was a great day for the NFL," Billick said. "You hear this time of year that there are a large number of teams that are out of it, and you hear commentary on teams that are phoning it in, having become pro-wise.

"Everyone is worrying about their money, and have these U-hauls lined up in the parking lot. But I'm proud to be a part of the NFL after watching [Sunday]. Teams that were totally out of it had no reason to go out and play the way they did."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Minnesota Vikings

Site: PSINet Stadium

When: Monday, 9 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 2, 7/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Off

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