After miss, `What the heck?'

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Ravens Gameday

Colts 20, Ravens 10

December 20, 2004|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS - For anybody wanting to know how in the world Matt Stover's 31-yard field-goal attempt, normally a chip shot, ended up in the back of offensive lineman Bennie Anderson, the veteran kicker gave the answer last night.

"It was a combination of Bennie getting pushed back and me kicking it a little low," Stover said.

Stover had converted on all but one of his kicks this year, yet missed a crucial one in the Ravens' 20-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts last night.

Kicking in a dome and without elements, the game was set up to be Stover's easiest. Stover had kicked in the wind at Giants Stadium and in the mud at Gillette Stadium.

It was possibly Stover's biggest kick of the year, and what would have been considered unthinkable heading into the game happened.

Colts defensive tackle Larry Tripplett was awarded the block, which skidded off his hand, into the back of Anderson, then 14 yards toward the Ravens' end zone.

Cornerback Von Hutchins picked the ball up and ran 24 more yards before Daniel Wilcox made the tackle.

The field goal would have cut Indianapolis' lead to a touchdown, but the Colts' offense needed just five plays to go 31 yards and get into the end zone on an Edgerrin James rush.

Even Stover admitted to being a little shocked afterward.

"I was like `What the heck just happened?' But they got the ball back and ended up scoring after that, and that just killed us," Stover said.

Maybe it was something about kicking into that end of the stadium.

The equally reliable Colts' kicker Mike Vanderjagt hooked a 33-yard field-goal attempt wide left in the fourth quarter.

RYAN WAITS HIS TURN

He has been patient, waiting his turn and then watching as his former co-workers succeeded elsewhere.

Now, with Jack Del Rio and Donnie Henderson, two former Ravens assistant coaches, getting their shots as defensive coordinators (and subsequently as a head coach for Del Rio), defensive line coach Rex Ryan shoots to the top of the list as the most likely assistant to be plucked from the Ravens.

Ryan, in his sixth year with the Ravens, figures to be the third member of the staff that could be a hot commodity for another job, along with offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, who has been linked to the coaching vacancy at the University of Pittsburgh, and Mike Nolan, who has been rumored to have drawn interest from the Miami Dolphins.

Asked if he thinks this could be his time, Ryan said: "I hope so. I think everybody wants to prove that they can run their own show on defense.

"I've had some excellent teachers, and I was successful as a coordinator in college. Probably, at one time, considered one of the top coordinators in college. So this is a natural progression, and if that opportunity presents itself, then great, I will attack it."

The Ravens needed Ryan's defensive line to keep the pressure on Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning last night, and the unit responded in the first half.

In the first half, Manning was pressured consistently, out of sync with his receivers and produced just two field goals, one of which came off a Ravens' turnover.

With the national spotlight, that may increase Ryan's chance for a promotion elsewhere. Ryan was the leading candidate to be the Oakland Raiders' defensive coordinator last year, but the Ravens denied him the opportunity. The Ravens lost Henderson last year and did not want to lose two coaches from the same staff.

"If it doesn't happen, then I'm happy here," Ryan said. "This is a great situation here with the Ravens. You've got great ownership, a head coach that is going to be here and who trusts his coaches to get the job done. He isn't a guy that is looking over your shoulder every two seconds.

"I love the structure, love the chemistry with the players. So if the worst thing happens that Rex Ryan is here coaching the defensive line again, that's not a great loss for me."

JEERING R. LEWIS

Midwesterners may be known for their charm, but the partisan crowd in the RCA Dome spewed venom when Ray Lewis went down with an injury in the first quarter.

Lewis hurt his wrist on a 9-yard Peyton Manning screen pass to Marvin Harrison and had to be helped off the field. With the Colts in a semi-no-huddle offense, fans thought Lewis, who stayed on one knee after the tackle, was trying to slow down any building momentum.

Lewis, however, was hurt. He missed the rest of the series but was able to return in the second quarter.

`DIME' PLAN PAYS OFF

The Ravens stayed in their dime package (six defensive backs) in the first half, a move designed to contain the Colts' passing attack.

It worked. Manning, needing three touchdown passes to break Dan Marino's single-season record, had none in the first half. Nickel back Deion Sanders shadowed Brandon Stokley, and dime back Chad Williams did everything, from pressuring Manning to covering the tight end.

Manning was 10-for-19 for 133 yards in the first half. Thirty-one of those yards came on his final pass, a strike to Marcus Pollard in the middle of the field that set up a Mike Vanderjagt field goal.

END ZONE

Left guard Edwin Mulitalo had a "wardrobe malfunction" in the second quarter, costing the Ravens a timeout. Mulitalo had a shoe problem but was hesitant coming off the field, making Bennie Anderson hesitant to come on. With all the confusion and the clock ticking down, quarterback Kyle Boller called a timeout. Mulitalo was able to play the next snap. ... Anthony Wright, Roderick Green, Bart Scott, Brian Rimpf, Tony Pashos, Randy Hymes, Maake Kemoeatu and Dwan Edwards were the Ravens' inactive players.

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Ravens (8-6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-1)

Site: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Off the board

Series: Steelers lead 12-6

Last meeting: Ravens won, 30-13, on Sept. 19 at M&T Bank Stadium

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