Stokley receptive to Billick's challenge


Wide receiver makes big plays

ankle injury knocks out center Flynn

October 07, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND - Ravens wide receiver Brandon Stokley answered his coach's challenge last night.

With the game scoreless, Stokley beat Cleveland Browns cornerback Daylon MeCutcheon for a 30-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Chris Redman, capping an 11-play, 84-yard drive in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, Stokley made an acrobatic catch in the end zone on a 35-yard touch-down pass from Redman to give the Ravens a 20-0 lead.

Last week, Ravens coach Brian Billick demanded that his receivers step up and affect a game, focusing specifically on Travis Taylor.

While Taylor remained relatively quiet in the first half (two caches for 13 yards), Stokley did his part and tight end Todd Heap continued his excellent play, drawing a 30-yard pass-interference call that set up a field goal that put the Ravens up 13-0 at halftime.

Heap led the Ravens with 53 first-half receiving yards on four catches.

"I think the receivers are stepping up," Heap said.

Heading into last night's game, Billick had a different opinion. Running back Jamal Lewis and Heap led the team in receptions before the game, and Lewis had a team-high five catches in the first half.

"I understand when he says its time for us to step up," said third receiver Ron Johnson. 'And I'm pretty sure Travis and Brandon are more than ready. I'm Just corning along and listening to everything they are telling, and when I get the opportunity, I'm Just going to try and take it."

Center Flynn injured

Ravens center Mike Flynn left in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Casey Rabach replaced Flynn.

Flynn, who did not return in the half, has not missed a game since becoming a starter at the beginning of the 2000 season. Rabach started the first two games at left guard before giving way to Edwin Mulitalo.

X-rays on Flynn's ankle were negative.

Bring in the noise

Browns coach Butch Davis asked his fans for more noise heading into last night's game. Davis told the Cleveland media that he hoped the fans would be in place by the start of the game, yell throughout and not miss half of the third quarter.

He got much of his wish, as the stands were about 90 percent full at kickoff. The Ravens were forced to call a timeout and hit with a false-start penalty on Heap during their first offensive possession.

But with the Browns' offense largely ineffective the first half, the fans remained quiet outside of some scattered boos.

Tate gets comfortable

Kickoff returner Robert Tate had just two returns last night, averaging 13.0 yards.

Tate came close to scoring a touchdown in last week's win over the Denver Broncos on a 64-yard return.

"I'm feeling more comfortable," Tate said. "The more time with the other players, you get to learn what their abilities are, how they are going to block their man. That helps me out as a returner.

"My big thing heading into this week was I got to make the first guy miss. You can't let just one guy bring you down. Each week, I'm going to work hard and try and prepare myself to score.

"The main objective for myself is to try and get the most yardage I can to help the offense get into good field position."

It works both ways

Cleveland defensive coordinator Foge Fazio and Billick coached on the same staff with the Minnesota Vikings.

Asked if the familiarity benefited Fazio in preparation, Billick said: "I doubt that. My familiarity with him works the other way."

Out of the spotlight

Billick was a realist concerning his team's chances of being featured nationally the rest of this season after back-to-back prime-time games.

"This will be our last time in the national spotlight for a while," Billick said, "unless they move one of the games to 4 p.m."

End zone

The Ravens' inactive players were Dameon Hunter, Sam Gash, Lamont Brightful, Bernardo Harris, Mike Collins, Jeff Ogden and Howard Green. ... Browns cornerback Anthony Henry started in place of Corey Fuller (hamstring). ... Browns fans hung a sign near one of the tunnels that read "Hall of Fame Voters Never Forget," with Ravens owner Art Modell's name circled with a cross through it. Modell failed to make the final ballot for the Pro Football Hall of Fame during Super Bowl week in January.

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