Ravens' attack goes out with whimper

Four-and-out on last drive caps quiet day for Wright after 119 points in 3 weeks

Raiders 20, Ravens 12

December 15, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - The three previous attempts from scrimmage ended with an 8-yard sack, a jump-ball incompletion and an inexcusable delay-of-game penalty for the Ravens' offense.

Still, with 1:17 left in the game and his team trailing by eight on a fourth-and-23 from its own 8, quarterback Anthony Wright figured his Ravens would find a way out of the jam somehow.

There was no such magic. Wright's final pass in the Ravens' 20-12 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Network Associates Coliseum was a desperate heave nearly picked off by cornerback Terrance Shaw, leaving all the things that went right for the Ravens' offense during their three-game winning streak a memory.

"Things just weren't going our way today," Wright said. "Things that normally go our way, weren't. Those things are going to happen."

Specifically, there were no fade passes to Marcus Robinson for touchdowns, as had been the case the three previous games. In fact, there were no completions at all to Robinson, who was shut out for the third time this season.

Wright and Robinson had formed a formidable tandem the past three games, hooking up for six touchdowns. But facing as stiff a test as there is in the NFL from Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson, Robinson never got a whiff of the end zone, and the number of passes even thrown his way was less than a handful.

The two seemed to be on different pages all day, and that continued on into the locker room afterward. Explaining why the first time he even got his hand on a ball came on the Ravens' second-to-last offensive play (a lob pass in traffic that Robinson could not haul in), Robinson said, "They played man-to-man on the outside. Charles Woodson followed me all over the field. We just didn't attempt any balls his way."

Wright had a different reason why he could not get the ball to his favorite target.

"Obviously, they were doubling him," Wright said. "They were rotating coverage his way, trying to do things to take me away from him."

Whatever the case, the Ravens' offensive scoring machine that had averaged 40 points over the past three games came stumbling back down with a 12-for-27, 193-yard, one-interception, three-sack showing by Wright (plus an alarming four false-start penalties).

The interception by cornerback Phillip Buchanon came on the Ravens' opening possession courtesy of a slip by Frank Sanders at the Ravens' 30. Buchanon returned the ball 29 yards to set up a 1-yard touchdown by Zack Crockett a play later, a 7-0 lead and a bad tone for the Ravens' offense.

"[Sanders] came out of the break and slipped," Wright said. "It was a safe play turned into a disastrous play."

The offense produced just one touchdown drive, a Wright 13-yard throw in the end zone to Todd Heap, but needed a 28-yard Lamont Brightful punt return to set up that.

Running back Jamal Lewis did his part by rushing for 125 yards, but the Ravens were 2-for-12 on third-down conversions.

"It's not humbling," Sanders said. "We faced a good defense with a good scheme, and they had their mind set on stopping Anthony, on stopping Todd and on stopping Marcus. Those were the key components for us scoring all those points the last couple of weeks."

And those were the players the Ravens needed on their final drive. Wright said he entered the huddle with the confidence his team could cover 79 yards in the 1:40 left for another comeback win similar to the Seattle Seahawks game three weeks ago.

But the bounces that went his way that day (including converting a fourth-and-28 pass off the hands of Sanders to Robinson), were nonexistent yesterday.

"I believed we were going to win that game up until [the end]," Wright said. "Things just weren't happening for us.

"Fourth-and-23 didn't matter."

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