Listless offense trips Ravens, 13-0

First-team unit finishes preseason with no TDs

August 30, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Ravens' starting offense ended the preseason with a touchdown drought and some lingering doubts.

In last night's 13-0 loss to the New York Giants, the Ravens' first-team offense continually tripped itself up on the sloppy Giants Stadium field and failed to break the goal line for the fourth consecutive week.

The Ravens finished the preseason 2-2 and must focus on recharging their attack as they prepare to begin the regular season Sept. 8, when they play at the Carolina Panthers.

Under first-year starting quarterback Chris Redman, the Ravens were held scoreless and managed just 65 total yards in the first half. They didn't convert a third down and didn't drive past the Giants' 47-yard line.

For the preseason, Redman played in 23 drives, resulting in as many interceptions (three) as field goals.

"We're not doing what we're supposed to do," receiver Travis Taylor said. "We can sit here and say it's preseason. But we still have to make plays. We got a long way to go. Hopefully, we can get there in one week. As a team, we got to pick it up right now."

Symbolizing the near-empty Giants Stadium, the Ravens just didn't show up.

They dropped two potential touchdown passes, jumped offside on third downs and had trouble remembering the snap counts. The Ravens couldn't avoid injuries, either, as safety Will Demps is expected to miss a month with a dislocated elbow.

"It's very disappointing to finish any game -- regular season, preseason, scrimmage, whatever -- like that," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I don't think we gained anything from this game. We just weren't ready to play at any level tonight."

The ragged Ravens offense had to make due without starting receivers Taylor (calf bruise) and Brandon Stokley (knee), who were held out for most of the game for precautionary reasons and are expected to practice next week.

Missing their top receivers, the Ravens couldn't catch a break. Whether it was a trick play or a replay challenge, the Ravens always came up short.

Their best scoring chance came early in the second quarter, when a 14-yard catch and an 8-yard run by Jamal Lewis got the Ravens to the New York 47-yard line. It was the only time the starting offense crossed into Giants territory and decided to get creative.

Catching New York off guard with a flea flicker, Redman found a wide-open Ron Johnson down the middle of the field. Slowing down to get under the ball at the 5-yard line, Johnson slipped and dropped the pass.

"I'm supposed to make the play and I didn't," Johnson said. "It was a great play by everybody. I caught it, it was a little wet and it was a rookie mistake. I didn't secure the ball."

On New York's next series, the Ravens' defense almost set up the offense at the Giants' 22-yard line. Ravens safety Anthony Mitchell appeared to have forced tight end Taman Bryant to fumble after a catch, and the ball was recovered by nose tackle Kelly Gregg.

But the officials called it an incomplete pass and didn't change the ruling after a Ravens replay challenge.

The Ravens' starting offense has only itself to blame for sputtering again. A combination of physical and mental errors led to the Ravens failing to convert on all four of their third-down plays in the first half.

The first drive ended with Redman leading Lewis too much on a swing pass. The next stopped when Redman hit Javin Hunter on a quick slant that came up a yard short.

The third possession -- which included the flea flicker -- was done after Redman's pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage.

The Ravens' last two series of the first half came against the Giants' defensive backups, but the results were the same. The fourth possession concluded when Redman threw a pass for a sideline route and tight end Todd Heap ran a comeback pattern.

The first half closed on another poor decision by Redman. Despite Hunter being covered, Redman forced a pass on a long out route and was picked off by third-string cornerback David Mitchell.

Redman finished the game 6-for-12 for 47 yards and didn't complete a pass over 14 yards.

"We're not going to make it a trend," Redman said. "I'm not going to point out one person here or there. We're kind of taking turns making mistakes. We just got to eliminate some of the mental errors."

The Ravens couldn't get jump-started by the return of Lewis, who was held out of last week's game in Philadelphia. In his second game back after last year's season-ending knee injury, Lewis ran for 20 yards on five carries.

"We moved the ball well and my guys up front were blocking for me," Lewis said. "I felt I am all the way back and facing that [eight-man front] early in the season will help our offense."

Through the first three quarters, New York's scoring was limited to two field goals, as Owen Pochman hit a 26-yarder at the end of the first half and Matt Bryant converted a 39-yarder midway through the third quarter.

The Giants reached the end zone with 7:13 left in the fourth quarter, when Jonathan Carter took advantage of Ravens cornerback Reggie Waddell slipping and scored on a 75-yard touchdown to put New York ahead 13-0.

The Ravens had a chance to end the shutout in the fourth quarter when they lined up for a 29-yard field-goal attempt. But Joe Maese's snap was low, and kicker Matt Stover was forced to make a desperation throw in the flat that fell incomplete.

"In my 13 years, I've had games like that where you can't even get a field goal," Stover said. "It's like Murphy's Law. The good thing is it doesn't count."

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