Line leaves Ravens at a loss

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Offense Sputters

Browns 20, Ravens 3

September 13, 2004|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND - With the Ravens short-handed on the offensive line - so much so that tackle Tony Pashos was signed from the practice squad Saturday for depth - those that did play were even shorter on excuses after the team's 20-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Center Mike Flynn (shoulder) and tackle Jonathan Ogden (knee) missed the game, leaving Casey Rabach and Ethan Brooks to try to replace two key members of a line that helped Jamal Lewis gain 500 rushing yards in two games against the Browns last season.

The drop-off turned out to be significant. Lewis was held to 57 yards on 20 carries, and quarterback Kyle Boller was sacked three times. Kenard Lang recorded all three sacks, lining up against Brooks every time.

"I don't think it was the fault of anybody," right guard Bennie Anderson said. "I think the people who filled in did a great job. I don't know what happened."

The Browns' starting defensive line of Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Orpheus Roye and Lang is the same crew Lewis bulled over for 295 yards in the first meeting last year, but that game also included Flynn and Ogden.

"When you lose a few of your starting linemen, things are going to be a little different," Lewis said. "You just have to get a feel for it and get used to it. I just have to practice with these guys, understand how they do things different and adjust to them."

Making matters worse, right tackle Orlando Brown played with a heavy heart. Brown's mother, Catherine, died on Saturday, but Brown said he never considered missing the game.

"They were prepared," Brown said. "They put an extra linebacker in there. We just got to keep working. We just have to improve."

Flynn will not be back for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and there is no guarantee Ogden will either.

"We can't use that as an excuse because we may have to line up with those guys next week," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Yeah, you hate to lose your good people, but we're certainly not going to use that as an excuse."

DEION WHO?

Instead, Ray Walls took Baxter's place with the base defense, and Sanders continued to play only in obvious passing situations. Baxter returned in the second half.

"I think it's a good approach to get back into the swing of things," said Sanders, who did not have any passes thrown his way.

The only time Sanders drew attention was when he returned his first punt since the 2000 season, a 5-yard scamper in the third quarter that drew a rise out of the crowd.

"We wanted to see if something can happen," said coach Brian Billick. "We'd been working on that, and we'll continue to do that."

DRIVE KILLER

The Ravens only moved into Browns territory once in the first half and had to punt after Kyle Boller overthrew Travis Taylor on a deep ball down the middle. Boller had Taylor open by a couple of yards on a third-and-one from the Browns' 49, but missed him by 5 yards.

Why not just run Jamal Lewis and continue what was a 10-play drive?

"If we complete that, it's a good throw, and if Travis can open up and get that, then it's a brilliant play and a brilliant call," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

BAD START FOR SAMS

It was a forgettable first game for rookie return specialist B.J. Sams.

Sams twice misjudged kickoffs, nearly whiffing on one that bounced out of the end zone and muffing the other before returning the ball for 1 yard.

The bright sun soaking Cleveland Browns Stadium played a factor.

"I could see it off the tee, then when it got in the air, it was right in the sun and I wasn't able to get a judge on it or anything," Sams said. "I just couldn't get to it.

"Sometimes I went the wrong way, and other times I just got what I could get."

Things were not better on punt returns. The Ravens had penalties on his first three returns. He had no yards on five returns.

RECEIVERS DOWN TO 3

Travis Taylor re-injured his groin and sat out the second half, leaving Randy Hymes, Devard Darling and Kevin Johnson as the only active receivers.

Hymes took Taylor's place in the base offense and made one of only two meaningful receptions the Ravens had all game.

Quarterback Kyle Boller found Hymes on a deep inside route for 17 yards, converting a third-and-15 from the Ravens' 19.

"When my number is called, I got to go out there and do my job," said Hymes, who finished with five catches for 39 yards. "Travis went down, and I wasn't expecting that, but I had to be ready for it. I did my best."

Tight end Todd Heap had a 24-yard catch that set up Matt Stover's field goal.

ANOTHER PICK BY HENRY

Browns cornerback Anthony Henry's fourth-quarter interception of Kyle Boller was his fifth against the Ravens in his career.

Henry intercepted former Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac three times in a game in 2001. His interception yesterday helped set up a 25-yard field goal by Phil Dawson that put the Browns up 13-3 midway through the quarter.

"This one was a great momentum breaker," Browns coach Butch Davis said.

END ZONE

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