So, did late TD upset 49ers?

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Billick: No one is angry

S.F. coordinator: `I should have been more aware'

December 02, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

In commenting on his team's play-calling late in Sunday's 44-6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Ravens coach Brian Billick refused to acknowledge any controversy.

With the Ravens up 31 points and three minutes left, quarterback Anthony Wright completed a 33-yard pass to Marcus Robinson on a drive that eventually produced a 2-yard touchdown run by Musa Smith on fourth-and-goal.

Billick disputes the idea anyone with the 49ers is angry.

"No they're not. I've communicated with those folks," Billick said. "There is a level of frustration. I've made it very clear, been on record - my first priority is to get this team in the best position possible to go forward with a great deal of productivity. We want to get Musa Smith involved."

Robinson's catch came on a third-and-five from the 49ers' 47. Conventional thinking would have sent Smith, who had pounded out 3 and 2 yards on his previous carries, into the line to keep the clock moving even if he fell short of the first down, but Wright threw a perfect pass to Robinson down the sideline (a roughing-the-passer penalty moved the ball down to the 7).

Though it was apparent San Francisco was not trying to stop the clock, the Ravens ran Smith twice, then fullback Alan Ricard once, setting up a fourth-and-goal from the 2. Smith scored the first touchdown of his career on a run over the left side of the line with 1:15 left.

"I've got a great deal of respect for [49ers coach] Dennis Erickson, obviously for that organization, having been a part of it," Billick said. "The game just kind of went down the way it did in the end. Do you take a knee at the end? I've said this before: You want to embarrass me - and there are plenty that would like to - get me in that situation and take a knee on a fourth-and-one."

San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Mora said after the game that when he was an assistant with New Orleans and Billick was offensive coordinator in Minnesota, he experienced a similar incident.

"I should have been more aware," Mora told a group of reporters. "I've been in a game with Brian Billick. ... Fourth down, he threw deep on them. ... I had to take [then-Saints assistant] Jim Haslett by the neck and take him in the locker room so he didn't go over there."

Weaver optimistic

It is early in the week, but defensive end Tony Weaver likes his chance of returning to the lineup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Weaver missed the 49ers game and left early in the previous two because of a neck injury. He is the only starter questionable for the game other than quarterback Kyle Boller (shoulder).

"This is a big game," Weaver said, "and if I can be out there in any sense, even if it's just rushing the passer, I'm going to be out there."

Secondary solidified

After mixing and matching much of the season, the Ravens have finally gotten settled in the secondary. At least for now, the team will continue to start Gary Baxter and Chris McAlister at cornerback and go with Ed Reed and Will Demps at safety.

Corey Fuller will be used primarily as the nickel back.

"Right now, Gary and Mac, that's a good combination, and Corey coming in on nickel," Billick said. "Corey, at this point where he is, 30, 35 snaps is a good number for Corey, a good, effective number for us. So the profile we're in right now is probably one we'll try to sustain."

Request answered

As strange as it was to see running back Jamal Lewis in the game with seven minutes left and the Ravens up 31, the team did have a reason.

Lewis wanted it that way.

"Jamal wanted to go another series, and I was going to honor that," Billick said. "Should I have taken him out? Should I not have? There was a thought process involved."

Lewis finished with 78 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown.

A ball for interception

A day after recording his first interception with the Ravens, linebacker Ed Hartwell received another first. He was awarded the offensive game ball for setting up the Ravens in good field position, leading to the game's first touchdown.

Hartwell returned the interception 26 yards to the 49ers' 30.

"The ice is broken," Hartwell said, "and hopefully a lot more will come after that."

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