Ravens fail to get offense going in finale

J. Lewis, Heap back, but 1st-team attack continues to sputter against Redskins

September 02, 2005|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN STAFF

Even the return of Jamal Lewis and Todd Heap failed to jump-start the Ravens" sputtering offense.

In last night's game against the Washington Redskins, the Ravens closed out the preseason much like they did all summer: mired in inconsistency.

The Ravens" first-team offense finished with four uneventful possessions, generating 30 yards, two dropped passes, one first down and no threats. Ready or not, the Indianapolis Colts and the regular season are next.

"There were some things we can work on and definitely get better for next week." Heap said. 'But we"ll definitely bring it together. It's not going to be hard. We"ve got a whole lot of guys who can do it. We all just need to step up."

It was a fitting farewell to a forgettable preseason for the starting offense. In 18 drives against a first-team defense, the Ravens managed nine punts, five turnovers, two touchdowns, one field goal and one blocked field-goal attempt.

The Ravens" first two drives stalled when Lewis was stuffed twice on third-and-one situations.

In his first action of the preseason, Lewis was held to 15 yards on six carries. The Ravens running back showed few bursts because there was little room to run, but he did test his surgically repaired right ankle with some hard cuts.

"The ankle feels good." Lewis said. "It held up for me. I had a nice little test run on it and now it's time to get going."

The last two drives for the starting offense ended with third-down drops by receiver Clarence Moore.

His first one would have gotten the Ravens close to the red zone. His second would have been for about a 25-yard gain and would have moved the Ravens out from deep inside their territory.

With Clayton's ability to run after the catch, he could soon be pressing Moore for his starting job.

Moore's shaky hands hurt quarterback Kyle Boller's chances of a solid finish.

He was 2-for-6 for 10 yards but made only one poor throw. Besides Moore's drops, the only other incompletions were an overthrown deep pass to Derrick Mason and a throw to the sideline to avoid a sack.

The one significant completion by Boller went to Heap. After missing all of training camp while coming back from ankle and shoulder surgeries, Heap returned to make a 6-yard grab on the first play of the second series.

"Once that adrenaline gets pumping, you forget about everything else." Heap said. "All the aches and pains go away."

To avoid any injuries, the Ravens held out a chunk of their defense.

Linebacker Ray Lewis, cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle and nickel back Deion Sanders did not play. Free safety Ed Reed lasted one series.

The defense did welcome back pass-rush specialist Peter Boulware. The franchise's all-time sacks leader got to quarterback Patrick Ramsey on the first play, although it was considered more of a coverage sack.

"To get out there on my first play and get the quarterback, I was awfully excited. ... I have a long way to go, but hopefully I'll be ready for the Colts." Boulware said.

After both starting offenses combined for no points and five punts in the first quarter, the teams traded field goals in the second.

The Redskins went back ahead 10-3 with 1:02 left before halftime, when quarterback Mark Brunell hit Jimmy Farris on a 22-yard touchdown pass.

The third quarter began with what the Ravens were trying to avoid all night - an injury. Backup offensive tackle Adam Terry, the team's second-round pick, sprained his knee and was carted off the field.

Terry was filling in for Jonathan Ogden, the only offensive starter who did not suit up.

Meanwhile, the final three quarters were mostly used to determine which players on the bubble were going to make the team.

Cornerback Zach Norton, who is one of four defensive backs vying for one spot, made the strongest impression with two interceptions. But Norton later got beat on a 37-yard touchdown catch by Farris, putting Washington up 17-6 late in the third quarter.

The Ravens closed within 17-12 midway through the fourth, when backup quarterback Anthony Wright connected with Trent Smith for a 1-yard touchdown. Smith has an outside chance of trying to be the fifth tight end to make the Ravens.

"There's a lot of guys fighting for position." coach Brian Billick said. "We"re finding out who's going to make this club."

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