Special teams play isn't very special

Punt return for TD is one of several Ravens mistakes

Buccaneers 25, Ravens 0

Nfl Week 2

September 16, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

J.R. Johnson had the best view - so close that Tampa Bay Buccaneers punt returner Karl Williams had no choice but to head the opposite way.

That proved to be the wrong way for Johnson and the Ravens, who were on their way to a 25-0 loss to the Bucs yesterday. After a series of fakes, Williams shot to his right and sprinted through a gaping hole in the Ravens' punt coverage, heading down the sideline and into the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown that put Tampa Bay up 10-0 late in the first quarter.

Johnson, who was about 2 yards from Williams after the catch but was being detained by two blockers, could only turn and watch. Williams went in untouched.

"I got double-teamed," Johnson said. "What I want to do is go out there, set the edge. He made a couple of moves, so I can't really see that much. I'm just trying to hold my edge. I saw him dancing and dancing, then shoot off the other way.

"The wall on that outside was gone."

It was Williams' fifth career punt return for a touchdown.

"That return was pretty much 10 guys up front blocking for you," Williams said. "It makes my job real easy back there; just read their blocks and it developed."

It was the third punt-return touchdown allowed in Ravens history, and the first since November 1999 against Cincinnati.

"Very disappointing because we had been playing pretty well on special teams," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We had guys around it. It was just a matter of not tackling well."

The Ravens' return unit was featuring a couple of new faces. Cornerback Robert Tate brought back four kickoffs for a 19.5-yard average, and receiver Jeff Ogden, who was signed last week, had two punt returns for 21 total yards. Ogden did not return punts until the fourth quarter, replacing Chris McAlister, who was suffering from cramps.

"It felt good. That's the first time I've done it in a while," Tate said. "I still have to get the timing down with how the blockers are blocking their men and seeing the hole. Other than that, I felt it was all right. I just have to keep my balance, keep my feet up more because I felt like I didn't pick my feet up enough because I probably could have broke one of them."

While Tate and Ogden were decent in their respective debuts, the special teams' miscues did not stop at the punt return for a touchdown. J.R. Jenkins' 55-yard field-goal attempt was blocked on the final play of the first half, and had Jenkins not tackled Tampa Bay end Simeon Rice, the result could have been worse.

Rice returned the ball 27 yards to the Ravens' 33 and had only Jenkins to beat.

"I felt like I hit it good," Jenkins said of his field-goal attempt. "I can't really say what happened until we watch the film.

"I'm just glad I got the tackle."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.