McAlister shows off quick recovery skills

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Beaten for long gain early, cornerback strikes back with interception for TD

September 03, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Just when it looked as if Chris McAlister had made a mistake by skipping most of the preseason, the Pro Bowl cornerback reverted to form last night in the Ravens' 27-17 victory over the New York Giants.

In his first game action, McAlister intercepted Giants quarterback Kurt Warner and went 23 yards for a touchdown on the Ravens' third defensive series, giving the team a 14-3 lead.

Before that, McAlister was beaten for 49 yards down the sideline by unheralded backup receiver Tim Carter, whose longest reception of the preseason had been 8 yards.

McAlister got caught peeking into the backfield, and Warner lofted a perfect spiral to Carter, who had McAlister beaten by two steps before the cornerback caught up and tackled him at the Ravens' 13-yard line.

The Giants were held to a field goal, and after a three-and-out on New York's next possession, McAlister returned to his dominant level of last season.

After the Ravens drove for a touchdown to gain a 7-3 lead, McAlister broke on a weakly thrown sidelined pass by Warner, stepped in front of receiver Amani Toomer, weaved in and out of traffic at the 5-yard line and carried a potential tackler into the end zone.

It was the last play of the night for McAlister, who played a total of 13 snaps.

"I am still trying to find my bearings," said McAlister, who ended his monthlong contract holdout on Monday. "This was my first time in pads. It feels great to be back with this team. I needed this."

"We gave up the big play then turned around and responded," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It was a great situation for Chris to get into. ... The fact that he came back shows you what kind of competitor Chris is."

Moore gets involved

Rookie Clarence Moore started his first game in the Ravens' three-receiver set, finishing with two catches for 20 yards.

Four passes were thrown his way, and he had a 34-yard catch that was nullified by a pass interference penalty. "The guy was falling, and I was simply catching my balance," Moore said.

Still, it was apparent the Ravens wanted him to play a big part of the offense.

"The last game I had a few key blocks and this game a few key catches," Moore said. "I'm just trying to show the coaches that I can play at this level."

Moore, Ron Johnson, Lamont Brightful, Javin Hunter, Aubrayo Franklin and Tony Pashos are fighting for the last few roster spots.

Giant struggle for Warner

Quarterback Kurt Warner, who will start the Giants' opener next week, accomplished little in the first half against the Ravens' starters, then fared just as badly against the backups. Warner was 7-for-9 for 79 yards and an interception.

The numbers may not be terrible, but the Giants finished their last four possessions under Warner with an interception, two three-and-outs and a failed fourth-down conversion.

"I think we ended great," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Our starting defense only gave up one touchdown all preseason. We are ready to go."

Eli Manning, the first overall selection in this year's NFL draft, relieved Manning with just under two minutes left in the half to an ovation from Giants fans. The Giants went three-and-out on that series.

Sams holds on

Return specialist B.J. Sams' encore was not as spectacular as his debut, but the undrafted rookie did what was most important to Ravens coaches - he caught the ball.

Sams took his first kickoff return 16 yards in the first quarter, then gained 2 on his only punt return in the second quarter. On both attempts, Sams appeared to hesitate and turn his shoulder slightly to avoid a big hit.

He ran more assertively with the second-half kickoff, returning the ball 26 yards to the Ravens' 32. Cornerback Lance Frazier had a 30-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.

Lamont Brightful, the return specialist the past two years, had no returns in the game.

End zone

After struggling much of the preseason, quarterback Kordell Stewart finished with a splash last night, completing all eight of his throws for 102 yards. His 118.8 quarterback rating more than tripled his total for the first three games. ... LB Peter Boulware (knee), QB Anthony Wright (shoulder), TE Todd Heap (shoulder), C Mike Flynn (collarbone), WR Travis Taylor (groin), DE Tony Weaver (ankle), DE Marques Douglas (elbow), LB Ed Hartwell (quadriceps), OT Orlando Brown (personal reasons), CB Corey Fuller (leg), WR Devard Darling (quadriceps), CB Javin Hunter (groin) and CB Deion Sanders did not play. ... Sanders made the trip, greeting the Ravens' defense during pre-game introductions and watching the game from the sideline.

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