Fourth-quarter call adds to Bledsoe's pain

Bills QB: Uncalled hold by R. Lewis was `blatant'

Ravens Gameday

Ravens 20, Bills 6

October 25, 2004|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

For Drew Bledsoe, it has been a year of living dangerously.

Playing behind a continuously reshuffled Buffalo Bills offensive line, Bledsoe entered the Ravens game having been sacked 20 times in five games, four of them losses.

It only got worse yesterday, when the 12th-year quarterback was sacked four more times, intercepted four times and lost a fumble. He endured not only an aggressive Ravens defense but, he said, "an unbelievably poor call" by the officials in the fourth quarter that helped clinch the Ravens' 20-6 victory.

Trailing 17-6, the Bills were on the Ravens' 5 when Bledsoe's pass intended for Lee Evans was picked off by Chad Williams. He returned it 93 yards, leading to a 19-yard Matt Stover field goal.

Bledsoe, who remained on the field after the play to jaw with officials, said afterward that Evans had been held.

"Ray Lewis just grabbed ahold of Lee Evans, grabbed him right around the waist, basically tackled him," Bledsoe said. "I saw him grab him and I thought, `OK, I'll just throw the ball at Lee and we'll get the call.' It was just about as blatant as it gets."

If Bledsoe and the Bills were showing their frustration, that's because they believed they had a legitimate chance to upset the Ravens.

"It was a very winnable game," said linebacker Takeo Spikes, an old Ravens nemesis from his five years with the Cincinnati Bengals who recorded eight tackles including a sack yesterday. "I felt like we had something special that we started off from the second half of the Miami game," which the Bills won, 20-13, for their first victory of the season.

Bills running back Willis McGahee had a breakout game against the Dolphins, rushing for 111 yards in his first NFL start. Yesterday, McGahee, alternating in the backfield with Travis Henry, ended with 16 rushes for 58 yards after getting just three carries in the first half.

"We needed a spark because we weren't getting it done and Will came in there and did a nice job," said Bills coach Mike Mularkey.

McGahee said Ray Lewis kept telling him: "Get up, dog! Don't lay there, just keep going."

McGahee was running behind a line that has been shuffled since training camp because of injuries, inconsistent play and the offseason release of Ruben Brown, a mainstay at left guard. Yesterday, Ross Tucker and Marcus Price started at center and left tackle, respectively, ahead of Jonas Jennings and Trey Teague, who were inactive because of injuries.

Buffalo's offense ranked 27th in the league entering the game.

Bledsoe said his game plan was "to do whatever we can against a very fast-pursuing defense, to give them some misdirection and create some plays for ourselves."

The Ravens' pressure, Bledsoe said, forced the Bills into a quick passing game in which he sometimes had to "guess" on how a play would develop.

The Bills sometimes tried screen passes against the pressure. One turned disastrous, when Williams deflected the pass and Deion Sanders intercepted it and ran it back 48 yards to make it 10-3 in the first quarter.

"We set up to fake the toss one way and throw it back to Willis on the backside. The ball just got tipped and he scored on it," Bledsoe said.

Mularkey said he wasn't blaming his quarterback for all of the interceptions. "From the naked eye, I thought some of those were catchable balls," the coach said.

NOTE: Bills wide receiver Eric Moulds has caught a pass in 100 straight games. His six catches for 96 yards included a one-handed, bobbling 49-yarder in the third quarter.

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