Mulitalo out for season

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Steelers 20, Ravens 7

December 27, 2004

PITTSBURGH -- Ravens left guard Edwin Mulitalo tore his left triceps muscle yesterday and will not play the rest of the season.

Mulitalo was hurt in the second quarter of the Ravens' 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on a play he described as routine.

He is expected to have surgery soon and will have further tests on the arm today.

"We'll take a look at it [today] to know when for sure," Mulitalo said. "But it's pretty bad."

Mulitalo was replaced by Bennie Anderson, who had been rotating at right guard with Mike Flynn.

Known as one the Ravens' most durable players and a solid run blocker, Mulitalo has not missed more than two games in a season since he became a full-time starter in 2000. He and Casey Rabach are the only offensive linemen to start every game this year.

It is not known yet whether Mulitalo's surgery will hinder him heading into training camp next season, but it's likely he'll make a full recovery by then.

Former Ravens offensive tackle Leon Searcy tore his triceps during training camp in 2001 and was projected to be out 10 to 12 weeks, but he did not return that season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Anthony McFarland also had season-ending triceps surgery earlier this year, and his rehab is expected to last two months.

Anderson likely will start Sunday's regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins, and the Ravens will make Brian Rimpf the top backup.

"I'll get it ready for next year," Mulitalo said.

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Miami Dolphins (4-11) vs. Ravens (8-7)

Site: M&T Bank Stadium

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

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

Line: Off the board

Series: Dolphins lead 4-1

Last meeting: Dolphins won, 9-6, in overtime on Nov. 16, 2003, in Miami.

EYES ON THE GAME

The score of the Jacksonville Jaguars' game against the Houston Texans appeared throughout the stadium, but center Mike Flynn said the Ravens never got caught up in scoreboard watching.

The Texans pulled a 21-0 upset, a win that would have significantly helped the Ravens had they won.

"I didn't see it [the scoreboard]," Flynn said. "But with this league, you always have to anticipate the team you're trying to catch is going to lose. There is a lot of parity in the league, and we had every intention of making the playoffs. We felt confident against Pittsburgh but just didn't get it done."

BOLLER ON THE RUN

Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller's 28-yard rushing total was his best since Week 2, when he ran for 34 in a victory over the Steelers.

Boller running around is not always a good sign for the Ravens, but one of his scrambles did convert a third-down situation.

"There are a lot of times when teams ... don't have anybody on the quarterback, and if I see a lane, I might be able to take off," Boller said. "It makes it tougher on them because they have to kind of put a guy on me. I had some opportunities to take off and run."

The major tarnish on Boller's statistical sheet was a first-quarter interception by linebacker Joey Porter, but that was largely set up by James Harrison's hit as Boller was throwing.

"It gave [Porter] kind of a belated Christmas present," Boller said.

The last time Porter intercepted a pass came against the Ravens in 2002.

VINTAGE BETTIS

The Steelers' Jerome Bettis last rushed for more than 100 yards against a Ravens defense seven years ago.

Yet his 117 yards on 27 rushes yesterday provided a vintage glimpse of Bettis, who passed Eric Dickerson for fourth place on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 13,294 career yards.

"The milestones have been incredible [but] it pales in comparison to what this meant to the team," Bettis said. "We accomplished everything we can possibly accomplish in a [regular] season in terms of home-field advantage [throughout the AFC playoffs]. It was really special."

One run included a head-and-shoulder smash into the midsection of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, whom Bettis eluded a time or two on sweeps as well.

"It was just a matter of pounding on them," said Bettis, who had a 100-yard-plus game for the 60th time in his career and 49th time with the Steelers.

It also was his sixth 100-yard game this season in seven starts, all within the past nine games in place of injured starter Duce Staley.

"We have been doing that all year," Bettis said. "That is how we are going to win a football game. We ran it, we ran it and we ran it. At that point, it showed that they could not stop us and we could pretty much do what we wanted."

- Chuck Finder, special to The Sun

END ZONE

The Steelers' touchdown on their opening possession was just the second the Ravens have given up in the first quarter this season. ... Travis Taylor, Wade Richey, Bart Scott, Brian Rimpf, Tony Pashos, Aubrayo Franklin, Dwan Edwards and Anthony Wright were the Ravens' inactive players.

BAXTER'S ADMIRATION

Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress ran a perfect corner route for a 36-yard touchdown catch on Pittsburgh's opening drive, a play in which cornerback Gary Baxter could only shake his head in appreciation.

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