Struggling offense aims to gain momentum


"Need to set a tone"

no welcome mat here for Vikings" Carter?

January 08, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Besides clinching a playoff spot last night, the Ravens wanted to gain some confidence on offense.

Before this weekend's games, the Ravens ranked 18th in the league in scoring (284 points), averaging 18.9 points a game.

Over their past two games, they have scored only two touchdowns on 28 drives. In coach Brian Billick's previous two seasons here, the Ravens had scored no fewer than 324 points in a season.

That's why the Ravens are looking to build some momentum against the Minnesota Vikings, which have the 21st-ranked defense in the league.

"You have to establish a mindset of what you want to do going into the playoffs." said Qadry Ismail, the Ravens' leading receiver. "Teams that play well are the ones that finish well. We need to set a tone that we haven't set on offense."

Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac, who has thrown a career- worst 18 interceptions through 15 games, wanted to use the season finale as a springboard for the of fense as well.

'We've had a lot of ups and downs on offense." Grbac said. 'This is one game where we can straighten things out before we get into the playoffs. That's the most important thing is that we have the confidence going into the play offs."

Unwelcome here?

Minnesota receiver Cris Carter, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the season, caused a stir in the Ravens locker room this week.

In a conference call with Ravens media, Carter said, "Baltimore has a lot of things I'd be look ing for: a great veteran team with a chance to win a Super Bowl and an offense where I'd fit in and get an opportunity to use my talents."

Some Ravens players, none of whom would comment publicly, in dicated that Carter would not be welcomed here. According to the players, Carter's overboard competitiveness and outspoken nature can create friction within a team.

Green may be out M-`

Although Dennis Green will not be coaching on the opposing sideline, Billick will still see a famil iar face across the way.

Billick, who served as offensive coordinator under Green during the 1990s, is a good friend of Mike Tice, the Vikings' interim coach. Tice, a former University of Maryland quarterback, played under Billick and helps out the Ravens coach during the summer at an annual coaching clinic at PSINet Sta dium.

Green stepped down as the Minnesota coach on Friday.

"It's a unique set of circumstances that I don't think anybody is comfortable with." Billick said. 'But he's got a job to do and if I know Mike, he'll bring them in fired up and ready to go.

"They'll rally around it. We can't expect anything less on Monday night. We can't think that they are not going to play well or not give their best simply because of the circumstances. That would leave us too vulnerable."

M-` but Brown won't be in

In his first public comments since Friday, Vikings owner Red McCombs put to rest any specula tion about hiring Texas coach Mack Brown, and said he doesn't expect to hire a new head coach in the next few days.

McCombs said he and Brown speak often, mostly about football, but added, "He is not a candidate, never has been, and won't be."

He described the pool of candi dates as "wide-open." indicating he would consider a college coach or an NFL assistant who has never been a coordinator. McCombs said Tice will be a part of that process, and he"ll continue to serve in that role until a decision has been made.

Ready for some football

Before last night, Baltimore has not had a team showcased on Monday night since Nov. 6, 1978, when the Colts beat the Washington Redskins, 21-17, at Memorial Stadium. The city, which has played host to five Monday night games, was the site of the second Monday night game, in 1970.

"It's a special event." Ravens owner Art Modell said. "There's an aura around Monday Night Football. It's another milestone that shows we're back."

Monday night games are not unusual for Modell, who chaired the NFL's broadcasting committee for 31 years and was a key partner in bringing Monday Night Football to the NFL.

Mulitalo confident

Edwin Mulitalo admits that his game last week against Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp may have been his worst, but the Ravens left guard wasn't worried about carrying that effort into last night.

"I've been in this league for three years and understand what happens when you have a bad game." Mulitalo said. "My confidence level is not shot."

Extra points

Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe will appear along with 14 other NFL players on the sixth-annual Wheel of Fortune "NFL Players Week." The shows, which were taped two months ago, will air this week. The other players were: Tiki Barber (Giants), Jerome Bettis (Steelers), Tim Brown (Raiders), Mark Brunell (Jaguars), Ron Dayne (Giants), Doug Flutie (Chargers), Ahman Green (Pack ers), Edgerrin James (Colts), Howie Long (former Raider), John Riggins (former Redskin), Emmitt Smith (Cowboys), Dana Stubblefield (49ers), Brian Urlacher (Bears) and Kurt Warner (Rams).

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