In spotlight, C. Taylor hides from `D'

Back uses line to conceal himself, runs for 89 yards

Ravens Gameday

Ravens 20, Bills 6

October 25, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

It took some nudging. In fact, a great deal of nudging. But after twice denying that yesterday's win, his first as a starting running back, meant more than any other victory, Chester Taylor finally gave in.

Indeed, this one was special.

And it proved something.

"Just knowing I can carry the ball that many times, because it's hard in the NFL; but now I know I can carry it that many times," Taylor said after the Ravens' 20-6 win over the Buffalo Bills.

Taylor rushed 21 times for 89 yards, a 4.2-yard average in what was the most extensive action of his three-year career.

All week, talk about the Ravens' offense centered on how the team would make up for the production of suspended running back Jamal Lewis. Lewis had accounted for 40.5 percent of the Ravens' offense heading into yesterday's game.

While Taylor never got the big run Lewis tends to get - his longest netted 15 yards - he did provide a steady hand to the offense and, at least for one play, showed more elusiveness than Lewis breaking through the line.

Taylor's best run came on the 15-yarder, when it looked as though the defense had him stopped at the line of scrimmage. While everybody watching expected to hear a whistle, Taylor found a slight crease with a jab step to the left, then accelerated up the field before Bills safety Izell Reese brought him down at the Ravens' 44-yard line.

Hiding behind linemen is something Lewis has never done.

"Just when you think you got him, he squirts out," fullback Alan Ricard said. "It's no hiding with Jamal."

It was the Ravens' first game without Lewis since 2001, when the punishing back missed all of that season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Taylor said before the game that he felt he was up to the challenge and showed no signs of nerves throughout it. Taylor had no fumbles, continuing the Ravens' perfection in that category from the running backs this season.

He also had a 12-yard run that converted a third-and-10.

"It was no extra pressure," Taylor said. "I was always on offense. I was just getting more plays.

"We still have the same offensive line. It would have been on me if I didn't make any yards because the offensive line was blocking good. Luckily, I did what I did."

The only negative for Taylor came in the fourth quarter, when the major difference between him and Lewis was evident.

Late in the game with a lead, Lewis usually has worn down his opponent, and the Ravens often can expend time on the clock and not give up the ball. But Taylor failed to convert a third-and-one with less than three minutes left, losing a yard. The Ravens were forced to punt.

Taylor had 15 yards on six carries in the fourth quarter.

"I just try to keep driving my feet, run hard and come up out of there," Taylor said. "I'm just running. I don't know what type of style that is. I'm just trying to get as many yards as I can."

Among Taylor, Musa Smith and B.J. Sams, the Ravens' backs combined for 105 rushing yards on 28 carries, a workmanlike effort.

It wasn't eye-popping, but it was effective.

"Our mind-set was to pound them like we normally do," Ricard said.

Said Ravens coach Brian Billick: "[Taylor] stepped up in the fold and ran hard for us. I'm sure he's pleased."

Indeed Taylor was.

Taylor said he was going out to celebrate, something he does after every win. It was his first celebration, however, as a starter.

"It gave me big confidence knowing I can go out for a whole game and play like I can play," Taylor said. "I'm used to just going out there on third downs. Now I'm feeling very confident going out to Philly."

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