Secondary blames itself for Maddox glory

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Steelers QB is 18-for-24, but `we hurt ourselves'

Nfl Week 8

Steelers 31, Ravens 18

October 28, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox completed his first 11 passes over 1 1/2 quarters, but the Ravens' secondary claimed the bulk of the responsibility in allowing the former XFL Most Valuable Player to look so good.

Maddox, who left the game in the third quarter with a foot injury but returned, finished with a 104.9 quarterback rating, two touchdowns and a 31-18 win.

"I wouldn't say he was on a roll," cornerback Gary Baxter said. "We did things to hurt ourselves rather than Pittsburgh executing against us. Tommy Maddox did a good job passing, and those guys did a good job executing."

Maddox led the Steelers to touchdowns on their first four possessions and a 28-3 halftime lead.

He hit wide receiver Plaxico Burress for two of the touchdowns and threw for 154 first-half yards.

"We never played like that before because we never got out of sync like that," safety Will Demps said. "In the second half, we just had to pick it up.

"They were completing a lot of balls. It was like 7-on-7 out there, and you can't let them do that. You have to stay focused, stay composed, and there were certain situations where we didn't do that."

Ravens' line intact

For the first time since the Oct. 6 Cleveland game, the Ravens had all five starting offensive linemen in the lineup.

Right tackle Ethan Brooks returned from a back injury, allowing Edwin Mulitalo to move back to left guard.

"It felt good, but if you put [backups] Casey [Rabach], Jason [Thomas], Damion [Cook], we feel comfortable with whoever is in there," right guard Bennie Anderson said.

The line had to pass block a season-high 51 attempts, the second most in team history.

Can't get a grip

Jamal Lewis lost a fumble for the third time in as many games.

Lewis' fourth-quarter fumble sealed any hopes for a Ravens' comeback. The Ravens, down 13 with just under five minutes left, had scored a touchdown on their previous possession and driven 38 yards before the fumble at the Steelers' 31.

"I was trying to make something happen," Lewis said. "I caught the ball, came down and tried to catch my balance. As soon as I came up, a guy came from behind and knocked it out."

A first for J. Jones

Tight end John Jones made the first touchdown catch of his career, an 18-yard reception near the sideline from quarterback Jeff Blake in the third quarter.

Jones can give an assist to Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who did not think to challenge if Jones had stepped out of bounds before going in.

"Actually, I stepped out of bounds at the 2, but it's in the books now," Jones said.

"It was designed to go to Terry Jones on the other side, but I'm just glad he threw the ball my way."

That ejected feeling

Near the end of the first half, Ravens cornerback James Trapp intercepted Maddox and ran toward the Steelers' sideline - where he was thrown out of bounds by Antwaan Randle El - and then a melee broke out.

Penalty flags flew, and Trapp and Burress were ejected. Trapp was not available to comment after the game, but Burress said the Ravens' defender "jumped on my face with both feet."

Burress said Trapp later apologized to him, and Burress apologized to his team.

But two of Burress' teammates, linebacker Joey Porter and strong safety Lee Flowers, came to the third-year player's defense.

"If James wants to play it like that, we've got some guys in this locker room that will go toe-to-toe. We're not going to back down from a fight," Flowers said.

Said Porter: "By stepping on somebody's neck, what are you saying? You're saying you want to take it farther than football? You step on my neck, I'm going to try to rip your head off. I'm going to react as if I'm on the street. My reaction would have been a lot worse than Plaxico's."

Testy turf

The playing surface at Ravens Stadium is not holding up well. Kicker Matt Stover said it's affecting the plant of kickers, which has something to do with few of their kickoffs going deep.

"This field has really gotten in poor condition," Stover said. "There's too much sand on it. That makes it tough to plant, attack the ball and kick it far."

After the Ravens drove 72 yards with the second-half kickoff and scored, they sent punter Dave Zastudil out with Stover for the kickoff. The threat of an onside kick started the Steelers back on their 26-yard line.

"What we're trying to do is take them out of their return," Stover said. "You put two kickers out there, they're thinking we're going to do an onside kick. If they didn't line up to cover it, that's what we would have done."

End zone

The 13 penalties were one shy of the Ravens' record of four seasons ago in San Diego. ... The 69,638 in attendance tied with the wild-card playoff against Denver in December 2000 for the biggest crowd in Baltimore sports history. ... Michael Phelps, the world champion swimmer from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club and Towson High, was the Ravens' honorary captain.

Sun staff writers Paul McMullen and Lem Satterfield contributed to this article.

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