CLEVELAND - Ravens receiver Brandon Stokley answered his coach's challenge in the Ravens' 26-21 win over the Cleveland Browns last night.
With the game scoreless, Stokley beat Cleveland cornerback Daylon McCutcheon to catch a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Redman, capping an 11-play, 84-yard drive in the second quarter.
Stokley followed that with a more impressive 35-yard touchdown reception, extending his body and making a finger-tip grab in the end zone in the third quarter for a 20-0 lead.
"I really didn't expect the ball to be thrown to me," Stokley said. "I lost it and regained it."
Ravens coach Brian Billick asked his receivers to step up and affect a game last week, focusing specifically on Travis Taylor.
While Taylor remained relatively quiet (four catches for 41 yards), Stokley did his part, leading the team with 78 receiving yards on four catches. It was the first multi-touchdown game in Stokley's four-year career.
Tight end Todd Heap also continued his solid play, hauling in four passes for 53 yards and drawing a 30-yard pass-interference call that set up Matt Stover's 28-yard field goal for a 13-0 halftime lead.
But it was Stokley who affected the game at the most critical times. Stokley drew a 33-yard pass-interference call on Devin Bush on a third-and-six from the 50 in the fourth quarter. Cleveland had scored a touchdown on the previous possession and cut the Ravens' lead to 15 with nearly a quarter left.
The drive ended with Jamal Lewis' fumble at the 1-yard line, but Stokley's play allowed the Ravens to chew valuable minutes off the clock.
Afterward, Stokley said Billick's challenge had little to do with his stellar game.
"I just try and go out every game and compete hard," Stokley said. "I've got enough motivation myself. I don't really need anybody else to motivate me. Every time I'm on the field, I'm motivated to perform and try and help this team win games. That's my motivation.
"The thing with receivers is we can't control everything. All we can control is how we run our routes and when we get open. Sometimes the ball doesn't come to you, and sometimes it does. And thank goodness the ball came to me."
Said Redman: "We thought we would be able to throw the ball downfield. Our guys made some great catches for us tonight. Our offensive line really stepped up."
Billick lauded Stokley after the game and even went out of his way to praise Taylor, while at the same time downplaying the drama he had created last week. "All the receivers played well," he said.