Allen in front of running stampede

Mended veteran leads 226-yard ground attack that tears up Miami `D'

Ravens 20 / Dolphins 3

Ravens Extra

January 14, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

MIAMI -- Don't suggest to Terry Allen that he found the Fountain of Youth in Florida.

Allen isn't 53 years old, or 43 for that matter. He's 33, and while Allen insists that he isn't motivated by any desire to shut up the critics who say he is over the hill, it's obvious that he is enjoying a sudden rejuvenation with the Ravens, his fourth team in as many seasons.

The Ravens amassed a whopping 226 yards on the ground yesterday. Jason Brookins came through with 65 yards on 10 carries. Moe Williams ran six times for 24 yards. Travis Taylor got 15 yards out of an end around, but the key to the Ravens' new conservatism was Allen, who was given the ball a season-high 25 times and responded with a number of clutch carries and 109 yards.

An ankle injury and a fractured hand kept Allen out of five games this season, but he should never be counted down and out. He's the only player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards the season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, and Ravens coach Brian Billick contends that the time he missed earlier this season was a blessing in disguise.

"For Terry to be here for us this late in the season is a stroke of luck, considering the injury he suffered," Billick said. "The broken hand allowed him to remain in shape but not wear him down from the pounding. ... It's fateful that he had that type of injury at that point in the season and we could survive while he was gone."

Now that it's January, Allen was asked if he agreed that his time off helped him.

"I agree," Allen said, "but all I've been hearing about is my age, so how fresh can an old man be?"

The Ravens signed Allen to a free-agent contract on Aug. 11, a few days after Jamal Lewis went down in training camp with a season-ending knee injury.

He had just 145 carries going into the regular-season finale, but got the call 23 times a week ago tonight against Minnesota and burned it for 133 yards. The Vikings were playing out the string. The Dolphins had the fifth-rated defense in the NFL, but Allen and the Ravens' other ball-carriers took advantage of a neck injury that slowed Dolphins middle linebacker Zach Thomas.

"My offensive line gets things started," Allen said. "If they can get me in the secondary, I can take care of those guys. The last two weeks they've been blocking well. Teams have to respect the fact that we can run the football now. We're starting to come together."

Allen carried four times for 27 yards on the Ravens' first scoring drive, as he barreled in from 4 yards out for what proved to be the winning points early in the second quarter. That 90-yard thrust was followed by a 99-yard drive in the third quarter. The big play was a 45-yard pass from Elvis Grbac to Taylor on third-and-one at the Ravens' 10, but Allen jump-started that drive with runs of 4 and 5 yards.

"That was very big," said Allen, who danced in the end zone to the music blaring on the PA system as the teams waited to start that series. "You know that at that point, they're going to come after you. ...We knew we had to get it out of there."

Running away

The Ravens have rushed for more than 100 yards in four of their five playoff wins over the past two seasons:

Opp. Att.-Yds. Avg. Leader

Den. 38-122 3.2 Ja. Lewis 110

Ten. 23-49 2.1 Ja. Lewis 47

Oak. 46-110 2.4 Ja. Lewis 79

N.Y.G. 33-111 3.4 Ja. Lewis 102

Mia. 50-226 4.5 T. Allen 109

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