In Moore, Sams has company in misery

Errors by rookie receiver, return specialist costly

Bengals 27, Ravens 26

December 06, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

When it was over, the rookie knew exactly what the other rookie was going through, so he took a seat and tried to console.

Ravens return specialist B.J. Sams found his friend and fellow rookie Clarence Moore in the locker room, sat next to his stall and offered a few positive words of better days ahead.

For Sams, those were words to live by. While both he and Moore had mostly avoided costly rookie mistakes this season, the duo was not so lucky in yesterday's 27-26 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Sams fumbled a punt with the Ravens up 20-3 late in the third quarter and in full control of the game. The muff was recovered at the Ravens' 19 and converted into a touchdown two plays later, sparking a 21-3 Bengals' run over the next 10 minutes.

"I just didn't run through the ball," Sams said. "I left my feet and didn't run through the ball, then it fell short and I couldn't get all the way to it. That's when they started driving and got a lot of momentum."

It was the costliest fumble of the year for Sams, who had placed four others on the ground but lost only one.

"I have to put it behind me and just go to the next week and make something happen," he said.

Sams' mistake was outdone by a couple of costly ones by Moore, who said he played one of his worst games.

With his family in attendance, Moore hit the first real bump in an otherwise solid season, dropping two passes, including one in the end zone near the end of the first half that would have put the Ravens up by a touchdown.

Instead, the team had to settle for a 22-yard Matt Stover field goal and a 6-3 lead.

"I'm definitely hurt about the performance I had," Moore said. "The balls that I usually have, they weren't right in my chest, but those are the balls I usually come down with. It's a home game, my family was here. It just hurts to not come down with balls I usually come down with."

Even on one of the two passes Moore caught, he failed to capitalize on an opportunity. Kyle Boller hit Moore on a comeback route for 8 yards, and while the rookie had to dive to make the catch, no Bengal immediately touched him.

Rather than roll an extra yard to convert a first down, Moore continued to lie on the ground, and the Ravens were forced into a third-and-one at their 35 with just under 14 minutes left in the game.

Boller's quarterback sneak failed to convert the first down, and the Ravens had to punt (Cincinnati scored a touchdown in five plays on the next possession).

In college, players are down when they hit the turf.

"I definitely didn't think about it at first," Moore said of getting up and running. "Then when I got on the sideline, I got on myself because I forgot that you can get up and run. It's a learning process. I definitely learned a lot this year, and I have a lot more learning to come."

Another lesson came earlier in the third quarter when Moore failed to get his hands up in time to make a play on a Boller pass across the middle. The pass was intercepted at the 50-yard line by safety Madieu Williams (Maryland).

"We were just miscommunicating," Moore said. "I saw someone in the lane where I felt like I had to slow down. He thought he could put it out in front of me. I slowed down and he put the ball out in front of me. It was a bad play by me because even at that point, you still want to not get your quarterback an interception.

"Looking back on it now, I wish I would have at least thrown my hands out there and knocked it down or something. It's disappointing."

Sams, who also lost 4 yards on one punt return and gained nothing on another, can relate.

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