Buccaneers At Ravens

Today, 1 P.m., Ravens Stadium, Ch. 45

September 15, 2002|By Jamison Hensley



Ravens run offense vs. Buccaneers run defense

The Ravens want to commit more to the run and increase Jamal Lewis' touches into the 25- to-30 carry range. Success here hinges on how effectively the Ravens' offensive line can open holes against a talented Tampa Bay front four. In the season opener, Lewis was stopped within a yard of the line of scrimmage on 10 of his 17 carries. With one of the fastest defenses in the NFL, the Bucs gave up 118 yards rushing last week but allowed only 3.5 yards per carry.

Key stat: 0. Wins by the Bucs over the past five years when allowing a 100-yard rusher.


Ravens pass offense vs. Buccaneers pass defense

The Bucs are looking to rebound from last week, when they couldn't mount a consistent pass rush and surrendered touchdown passes of 32 and 41 yards. The Ravens, though, looked shaky in keeping a safe pocket for quarterback Chris Redman. Tampa Bay only blitzes about a quarter of the time and relies on its front four to generate pressure. That means Redman needs young guards Casey Rabach and Bennie Anderson to hold off Warren Sapp, and Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden to shut down Simeon Rice, who usually plays Ogden tough. The other concern is receiver Travis Taylor, who will be limited with a sprained shoulder.

Key stat: 4.0. Average yards per catch by Ravens tight end Todd Heap on five receptions last week.


Buccaneers run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Ravens looked out of sync last week, when the Panthers racked up 145 yards rushing with the likes of Lamar Smith and Nick Goings. Their defensive front allowed too many blockers on inside linebackers Ray Lewis and Ed Hartwell, and the Ravens missed tackles when they were in position. The Bucs won't be as effective in getting to Lewis and Hartwell because of a subpar offensive line. But the Ravens have to prove they can bring down stout running backs Michael Pittman and Mike Alstott. The Ravens plan to give half of outside linebacker Shannon Taylor' snaps to Cornell Brown, who is more of a run stopper.

Key stat: 123. Rushing yards gained by Tampa Bay in the Dec. 29 meeting with the Ravens.


Buccaneers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Ravens seem confident in their matchups, with cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Gary Baxter going against Tampa Bay receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell. The Ravens' corners can match the size of Johnson and McCardell and don't fear either one going deep. But this is a secondary that got beat by average Carolina receivers last week. The Ravens can even out any lapses in their defensive backfield by exploiting the Bucs' biggest weakness, the offensive line. In 52 pass attempts last week, Tampa quarterback Brad Johnson endured 21 hits, 18 knockdowns, three sacks, eight pressures and 13 throwaways.

Key stat: 5. Passes thrown by Carolina in the second half against the Ravens last week.


Special teams

Both teams are dealing with critical mistakes by special teams. Matt Stover had trouble with the wind last week when he missed a potential game-tying field goal from 47 yards. And the Bucs' punt team couldn't handle a light rush, which forced punter Tom Tupa to haphazardly throw an interception from his own end zone in overtime. Ravens punter Dave Zastudil averaged only 36.3 yards, and McAlister didn't break a punt return longer than 6 yards. Ravens kickoff specialist J.R. Jenkins needs to continue his touchback streak against Tampa's Aaron Stecker, who averaged 29.5 yards on four kickoff returns in Week 1.

Key stat: 2. Touchbacks by Jenkins.



The Ravens will have the emotion of the crowd behind them after a pregame ceremony honoring former Baltimore Colts quarterback John Unitas. All the pressure is on Tampa Bay, which cannot afford to go 0-2 after all of the preseason hype. Meanwhile, the Ravens have nothing to lose since many consider them to be one of the NFL's worst teams after losing to the Panthers.



Rising to the emotion of the day, Redman will play inspired football and keep the game close in the fourth quarter. But a day of tribute will end on a down note, with the Ravens bowing late in a 20-13 loss.



Buccaneers 0-1 Ravens 0-1


Buccaneers by 3 1/2

Vs. spread

Buccaneers 0-1 Ravens 0-1


Buccaneers lead 1-0.

Last meeting

Buccaneers won, 22-10, on Dec. 29, 2001, in Tampa, Fla.

NFL rankings

Bucs offense: Rush (23), pass (10), overall (16).

Ravens defense: Rush (25), pass (2), overall (7).

Ravens offense: Rush (20), pass (15), overall (21).

Bucs defense: Rush (T20), pass (22), overall (T21).

Quick hits

The Ravens have won their past two home openers and are 10-2 in their past 12 regular-season home games.

Buccaneers K Martin Gramatica made a 52-yard field last week and is 9-for-16 (56.2 percent) in his career from 50-plus yards.


BUCCANEERS: Questionable: DT Buck Gurley (ankle); WR Keenan McCardell (quadriceps). Probable: G Cosey Coleman (knee); C Mike Solwold (leg); RB Aaron Stecker (turf toe).

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