Ex-Raven Sharpe gets warm reception


Super Bowl tight end isn't forgotten by fans

linebacker Brown starts


Nfl Week 4

Ravens Vs. Broncos

October 01, 2002|By Brent Jones

He was a cheer sandwiched between a parade of boos.

Denver Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe made his return to Ravens Stadium last night, his first appearance since re-signing with the Denver Broncos during the offseason.

Sharpe received applause worthy of most current Ravens when the Broncos' offense was introduced before the game. Sharpe was the final player announced before coach Mike Shanahan.

"I expect it will be much like it was when I returned to Denver last year," Sharpe said of the type of reception he anticipated.

Sharpe was right. He was cheered when he returned to Denver as a Raven a year ago and received the same treatment last night.

The fans, much like Ravens coach Brian Billick, appreciated the big plays Sharpe seemed to always make in his two-year stint with the Ravens. Sharpe spent the first 10 years of his career with Denver.

"That's going to be a very fond time in my coaching career, to look back," Billick said of Sharpe's time in Baltimore. "That inside perspective was invaluable to us."

Sharpe's first reception last night produced a Broncos first down, a 7-yarder from quarter-back Brian Griese to Denver's 19 with just over three minutes left in the first half.

His former understudy, Ravens tight end Todd Heap, proved himself worthy of filling Sharpe's shoes in the first half, finishing with five catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns.

Heap made a leaping 23-yard touchdown reception less than a minute into the second quarter to give the Ravens a 7-3 lead, then followed that up with a key 16-yard reception on the next drive that helped set up another touchdown.

Heap then hauled in a 3-yard touchdown on a fade route from quarterback Chris Redman with less than a minute left in the half that put the Ravens up 24-3.

Reed blocks punt

Ravens safety Ed Reed show-cased his big-play ability last night, blocking a punt early in the second quarter.

Reed maneuvered past Broncos safety Kenoy Kennedy, then had a clear path to punter Tom Rouen's foot.

The block set up the Ravens' second touchdown. Reed, the Ravens' first-round pick out of Miami, recorded nine interceptions in 11 games last year.

C. Brown gets start

Linebacker Cornell Brown made his first start of the season and recorded the game's opening tackle from scrimmage.

Brown started in place of Shannon Taylor, a move the Ravens coaches hinted could happen in the aftermath of the team's previous game against Tampa Bay Sept 15.

Broncos' scheme unravels

Broncos defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes introduced his new two-deep scheme last night.

Rhodes, widely considered one of the best coordinators in the NFL, had the top ranked rushing defense heading into last night's game, and the success comes largely from his front seven. The Broncos generally keep both of their safeties deep to protect against the big play.

His unit, however, Unraveled during a drive in the second quarter, drawing five penalties and a Deltha O'Neal ejection.

"I know him back from his San Francisco days," Shanahan said of Rhodes. "He's a hard worker. He understands the game, and he's been a winner in a lot of different organizations."

Extra points

Ravens inactives were Dameon Hunter, Sam Gash (hamstring), Lamont Brightful, Bernardo Harris, Mike Collins, Damion Cook, Terry Jones (hand) and Howard Green. For the Broncos, Blake Brockemeyer started in place of Matt Lepsis at right tackle. ... The Ravens saluted Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams in pre-game introductions last night. ... Though he was questionable heading into the game, Brandon Stokley played on his sore ankle. ... The 69,538 in attendance last night was a Ravens' regular-season record, second only to the 2000 playoff game against the Broncos. ... The 31 points in the second quarter was a team record.

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