Grbac stands up to Dolphins and his critics

Maligned QB, offense get sweet redemption on 2-TD, 347-yard day

Ravens 20 / Dolphins 3

Ravens Extra

January 14, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

MIAMI - He looked completely unaffected by the magnitude of the day.

Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac was efficient, accurate and, most importantly, confident in the team's 20-3 wild-card victory over the Miami Dolphins yesterday at Pro Player Stadium.

Now, after taking his share of criticism for not performing well in the clutch, not just this season but through much of his career, will the perception of Grbac change after he posted a 106.9 quarterback rating in just the second playoff start of his nine-year career?

"That's up to you all," Ravens coach Brian Billick said to the media. "It doesn't do a damn thing for me. That's the way I felt about it all along. But maybe you all can get off his [butt], at least for a week."

Grbac completed 12 of 18 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown. He led the Ravens on touchdown drives of 90 and 99 yards, the latter ending with a 4-yard pass to Travis Taylor in the third quarter that put the Ravens up 14-3.

It was a clinic in game management from Grbac, who was brought in to help the Ravens repeat as Super Bowl champions after the team chose not to re-sign Trent Dilfer. Grbac didn't let that pressure get to him yesterday.

"It was important with everything that was going on," Grbac said. "Everybody talking about Trent Dilfer, and me coming in here and all that. It was just a good opportunity. I came here, and wanted to establish myself. Quarterbacks really make their mark in the playoffs. It was a good feeling."

The entire offense should have felt good on a day in which it racked up 347 yards against the No. 5 defense in the league.

"I think guys are sick and tired of being maligned," Grbac said. "I think the offensive line is and probably the entire group. We wanted to establish ourselves, and we did that."

The Ravens ran all game and threw when they needed to. Grbac's biggest play, and perhaps one of the most important throws of his career, came on a third-and-one from the Ravens' 10-yard line in the third quarter.

Rather than run the ball to pick up the first down, the coaches expressed the utmost confidence in Grbac by having him throw deep to Travis Taylor, who was one-on-one downfield with Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain.

The result was a 45-yard completion, which helped set up the 4-yard touchdown pass from Grbac to Taylor that put the team up 14-3.

"Third-and-one, and they jump in the [short-yardage] defense, which we expected them to do," Grbac said. "We had the one-on-one on the outside, which is what we talked about all week. If they do that, then we need to make a play downfield. And Travis made a great move at the line of scrimmage, got open, and we capitalized with the seven points after that."

Said Billick: "You can see why I have the faith in him that I do. He orchestrated a beautiful game plan. He really is getting a feel for a flow of the game, what we need to do. I just have always had a lot of faith in him."

And Grbac looked as though he had faith in himself. Center Mike Flynn said he could see a fired-up Grbac relishing the chance to lead the team.

"He showed me something," Flynn said. "He made the big throws under pressure. He didn't have any bad throws and was a presence in the huddle. I thought it was his best game of the year, and I'm not talking stats. I mean getting in the huddle, motivating us and getting it done."

Grbac, though, did not want to overstate the mark he made, instead looking at it as part one of a four-step process in the Ravens repeating as champions.

"I made one win, and that's it," Grbac said.

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