Defense keeps buckling down on third down


Eagles miss converting first 11 attempts, including McNabb's 0-for-6 night


August 24, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - The Ravens were a little over four minutes away from a shutout.

Not the conventional scoreboard shutout, but a shutout of the Eagles' converting third downs. Philadelphia came up empty on its first 11 third-down attempts but finally converted one on Tim Hasselbeck's 12-yard completion to Sean Scott in the fourth quarter.

That play eventually led to a Hasselbeck 1-yard sneak for a touchdown, but the Eagles failed on the ensuing two-point conversion and lost, 13-12, last night at Veterans Stadium.

Before that final drive, the Ravens gave up their share of yardage, including 181 total in the first half, but were able to get off the field when they had the chance.

"Third down, it is very important you get them into a punting situation," linebacker Shannon Taylor said. "Once they get into a rhythm, it's hard to slow them down."

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was 12 of 19 for 139 yards in the first half but was 0-for-6 on third-down conversions.

"Defensively, we've been excellent on third downs," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Where we've hurt ourselves is on first down. If I'm not mistaken, the Jets were 0-and-8 or something like that. So third-down conversions defensively have been excellent. We just have to be more efficient on first down and not give up the 6-, 7-, 8-yard completion."

Off night for Mulitalo

Edwin Mulitalo took a step back in his move to right tackle.

The converted left guard struggled with what amounted to a two-man rotation against him last night.

Mulitalo gave up his first sack of the preseason against defensive tackle Corey Simon in the third quarter.

"I just felt like I didn't get better," Mulitalo said. "I didn't get my shoulder across on Simon on an inside play. I just have to keep going forward. That was my big thing. When [Derrick Burgess] beat me for a hurry on the inside, I came back and blocked him on the next play.

"I don't know what the situation is, but right now, I'm the right tackle. And I just got to get better every week."

Cunningham laments ending

Randall Cunningham was blunt in his farewell news conference last night before the Ravens-Eagles game.

Cunningham, who spent 11 seasons with the Eagles, played his final year with the Ravens and would have liked the chance for a better ending to his final game. He sat on the bench throughout a lopsided playoff loss last January in Pittsburgh, a game in which the Ravens' offense struggled throughout behind now-retired quarterback Elvis Grbac.

"I would have like to have played in the Pittsburgh game and seen what the outcome would have been," Cunningham said. "Maybe we could have won the game. Things happen as God allows them to."

C. Williams off bench

Ravens safety Chad Williams, who filled in admirably for Ed Reed, came off the bench for the first time this preseason.

"It's just part of the game," Williams said. "Coach said he wanted to give other guys an opportunity to play. It's no disappointment. You just have to be ready at any time."

Will Demps also started in place of Anthony Mitchell and recorded a first-quarter sack of McNabb.

J. Lewis takes breather

Running back Jamal Lewis' encore will have to wait a week.

Lewis rushed for 24 yards on four carries last week against the New York Jets in his first action since the Super Bowl in January 2001. He sat out last night's game because of the unstable turf at Veterans Stadium.

"I'm just happy I made it through a training camp," Lewis said. `I don't think it was a big need for me to play in this game because of the turf."

End zone

Cornerbacks Gary Baxter (ankle) and Jason Olford (hip), Lews, linebackers Andre Arnold (knee) and Peter Boulware did not play. ... James Trapp strained his shoulder in the first quarter and did not return. Shawn Byrdsong took Trapp's place at the nickel back Ravens quarterback Wes Pate had to come out of the game after losing his shoe on a 24-yard scramble. ... Ravens linebacker Louis Green recorded his first sack of the preseason for an 18-yard loss on Hasselbeck that also forced a fumble. ... Ravens running back Tellis Redmon rebounded from his two-fumble performance last week to rush for a team-high 37 yards on seven carries.

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