J. Lewis gets raves

Ravens get 34-16 loss

Running back's return termed success with 4-carry, 24-yard effort

`I'm ready to rock and roll'

Testaverde, Jets shred Ravens' `D'

offense still sputters in red zone

August 16, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

While Jamal Lewis brought the Ravens some hope, Vinny Testaverde delivered them a dose of reality.

In last night's 34-16 preseason loss to the New York Jets, the Ravens were ecstatic over the strong return of Lewis, the running back who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but they could have done without Testaverde's homecoming to Ravens Stadium.

Testaverde, the former Ravens quarterback, made the Ravens' defense look ordinary, completing nine of 12 passes for 129 yards and guiding scoring drives of 69 and 58 yards.

But the game belonged to Lewis and his memorable four carries. Taking his first hits in more than a year, he handed out some of his own in pounding out 24 yards in his last three tries.

"I feel good," Lewis said. "It was all positive yardage. Now I think everyone knows I'm back and to be ready for me. I'm ready to rock and roll now."

After Testaverde's 31-yard touchdown pass on the opening series, the focus shifted to Lewis, and he didn't disappoint.

On the Ravens' second play of the game, Lewis went helmet-to-helmet with nose tackle Jason Ferguson in a run that went for no gain yet spoke volumes. Popping right up after the tackle, Lewis received a resounding ovation from the announced crowd of 67,681 and would need a crowd of New York defenders to bring him down on his last three touches.

Lewis got his number called immediately after that first carry, making a hard cut once through the line and ending a 4-yard run by dragging four Jets tacklers.

After two completions by quarterback Chris Redman, Lewis burst through a huge hole opened up by fullback Alan Ricard and left tackle Jonathan Ogden before being brought down for 13-yard gain, his biggest run of the game.

Lewis' night ended on the next play as he bounced off three Jets for 7 yards, putting the Ravens at the New York 27-yard line. At that point, he had accounted for 24 of the Ravens' 44 yards to signal the return of the team's ball-control offense.

Once on the sideline, Lewis received a congratulatory handshake from coach Brian Billick.

"He's running so hard and broke through a couple of tackles and dragged a guy a little bit out there," Billick said of Lewis' seven-play appearance. "I know he feels much better, and so do I."

Chester Taylor took over for Lewis and the sixth-round pick ran three times for 15 yards to get the Ravens to the Jets' 9. The marathon drive ended with two Redman incompletions.

After moving the ball 64 yards on 14 plays and using 7:47, the Ravens had to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Matt Stover to cut New York's lead to 7-3.

That series continued a troubling theme for the Ravens' offense this preseason. The team has proved it can rack up yards but not points.

Redman looked crisper than he did last week, marching the Ravens with short and intermediate passes and finishing 15-for-22 for 102 yards. But the Ravens again couldn't punch the ball into the end zone.

In 12 preseason drives, the starting offense has crossed the 50-yard line eight times and has only two field goals to show for it.

"We had some tempo," Redman said. "But once we got in the red zone, we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We just got to eliminate those things."

Said right tackle Edwin Mulitalo: "Obviously, we are disappointed because we didn't get in the end zone. Hopefully, that will come the more we jell together. The best thing was seeing Jamal run and run well."

Before and after Lewis' only series of the game, Testaverde shredded the Ravens' defense.

In the game's first possession, he completed all three passes for 62 yards. He picked on Ravens cornerback Alvin Porter -- who is subbing for injured starter Gary Baxter -- for a 21-yard pass and attacked Porter again on a 31-touchdown throw to Laveranues Coles.

After the celebration over Lewis' return, Testaverde went back to work on the Ravens' secondary with completions of 27 and 18 yards to move to the Ravens' 8-yard line. Testaverde then misfired on his next three attempts, and Danny Boyd kicked a 27-yard field goal to increase the lead to 10-3 with 1:21 left in the first quarter.

It was a different story from last week for the Ravens' starting defense, which didn't allow a drive over 26 yards to the Detroit Lions. Last night, the Jets grounded that young defense and racked up 187 yards of total offense against the starting group, which played without four starters.

"Vinny is a veteran quarterback and he makes veteran plays," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "We settled down on the second drive and the young pups hung in there."

Said cornerback Chris McAlister: "We weren't as crisp as a first unit as we should've been. It's still the preseason and we can improve. It's something we need to learn from."

Three Ravens turnovers led to 17 points for the Jets, who pulled out to a 34-10 lead in the final minute of the third quarter. Sandwiched in that sloppy play was a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by rookie Javin Hunter, the Ravens' first touchdown of the preseason.

The Ravens concentrated on the positive, beginning with Lewis and the return of the power running game.

"It felt great to get the first contact out of the way," Lewis said. "I feel like I've got my groove back now. I think we're ready now."

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