Sanders passes torch to Sams

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

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Chiefs 27, Ravens 24

October 05, 2004|By BRENT JONES AND MIKE PRESTON

After scoring the first touchdown of his career, return specialist B.J. Sams got a warm embrace from somebody who had been there a few times before.

Deion Sanders, who did not play last night, was one of the first people on the sideline to congratulate Sams in a moment that looked like a passing of the torch from one generation's most electrifying punt returner to what might be another.

Sams' 58-yard punt return for a touchdown was just what the Ravens needed, tying the game at 17 shortly before halftime, but not enough to overcome a determined Kansas City Chiefs team that went on to a 27-24 victory.

"It was a return right," Sams said. "Everybody on their team just over-pursued. I just cut it back and had great blocking.

"Going into halftime, it gave us a little momentum coming out."

Although many thought Monday night would be prime time for "Prime Time" to return and do something big, it was the little-known rookie Sams, who almost single-handedly kept the Ravens afloat.

Sams also had kickoff returns of 25, 20, 44 and 41 yards, setting up the Ravens in good field position, although the team was forced to punt both times.

"He kept us in the game," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He kept us a lot closer than probably the play really deserved on a 27-24 loss."

Sams said he has learned the art of altering games from one of the best.

"All week, Deion was talking about a way to get me in the end zone," Sams said. "A little coaching, and it happened."

McCRARY INDUCTED

The Ravens inducted former defensive end Michael McCrary into the team's Ring of Honor last night at halftime of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the first player inducted since Earnest Byner in 2001.

McCrary played for the Ravens from 1997 to 2002, gaining the reputation as one of the league's best pass rushers. He is second on the Ravens' all-time sack list with 51.

Somewhat undersized, Mc- Crary got a number of his big plays by simply out-hustling his opponent. McCrary's 14 1/2 sacks in 1998 are the second most by a Raven in one season, a half sack behind Peter Boulware in 2001.

"He was just a dream," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He had a constant motor and huge passion for the game. He was all about the game, and anybody around him recognized that."

The Ravens ran a two-minute video highlight of McCrary during the ceremony.

"Retirement is hard. It's been real tough for me," said Mc- Crary, a two-time Pro Bowl player. "But this makes it easier."

McCrary retired after the 2002 season because of a degenerative condition in his surgically repaired knees.

FASSEL ON SIDELINE

Ravens senior offensive consultant Jim Fassel stood on the sideline during the game, a rare occurrence for the former New York Giants head coach.

Quarterback Kyle Boller, for one, welcomed his input.

"It will be great," Boller said. "He can give me some hints. I have been fortunate to have him on Monday and Tuesdays to work with me."

MESSAGE FOR HOLMES

Chiefs running back Priest Holmes' 53-year old stepfather, Herman Morris, is a master sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve. He is in Iraq after volunteering for a 12-month duty.

Holmes got a message from his stepfather before the game.

"It was a shock because people go out of their way just so my father and I could communicate and that means a lot to me," said Holmes. "It definitely means a lot to my family."

VERMEIL RELIEVED

"I was very pleased to come in here and win after losing three and people have written you off and taken a lot of sarcastic shots, and I really respect the club for that," said Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil. "It's a hard thing to do, and come in here and win on Monday night in front of the country. They are a good football team, and we're the only ones to beat them here. We beat them here last year, and we beat them here this year."

BILLICK LOSES ONE

The Ravens lost a challenge in the first quarter when Billick protested a pass-interference call on Gary Baxter.

It appeared as though a defensive lineman tipped quarterback Trent Green's pass, but replays showed the ball just fell short of Hall, the intended target.

The Ravens did not have to worry about a Chiefs challenge for most of the first half because they used all their timeouts by the end of the first quarter. Kansas City lost an officials' review in the last two minutes of the second quarter when, after Holmes' run, the Chiefs were marked a yard short of the first down, setting up Sams' return.

POSSESSION UNBALANCED

The story of the game was told in the time of possession. Kansas City had the ball for 39:43.

The Ravens had it for only 20:17. The Ravens never got into any offensive rhythm, which means running back Jamal Lewis didn't get enough carries.

Lewis carried only 15 times for 73 yards.

"If we had a chance to get a rhythm and actually run a series of plays, I thought we could get some things going, but that wasn't the nature of the game," Billick said. "We couldn't sustain it, and then they'd get a long drive and it was just an out of sync all night in that regard." END ZONE

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