Final drive goes in reverse

With a chance to go ahead, offense fizzles again, stopped by penalty and sack

Ravens Gameday

Bears 10, Ravens 6

October 24, 2005|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

CHICAGO -- The first one is always the hardest, so when Anthony Wright converted a third-and-three with a 4-yard scramble up the middle, he figured the Ravens were well on their way to an exhilarating fourth-quarter comeback victory.

As it turned out, a storybook ending was replaced by the facts of life in this season gone awry. Penalties and sacks define this offense more than precision and execution - needed in any comeback - and the Ravens were penalized and sacked right into a 10-6 loss to the Chicago Bears yesterday at Soldier Field.

The Ravens, who after Wright converted the first down, had a first-and-10 at their 45 with more than three minutes left, proceeded to go 14 yards in reverse in the next three plays and were forced to punt. They never got the ball back.

Left tackle Jonathan Ogden was hit with a false start on second down, and Wright was sacked by Tank Johnson for a 9-yard loss on third down.

"We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot, and we can't win games like that," Wright said.

The Ravens even having a chance to win at that point was somewhat of a minor miracle. The offense had been held to 197 total yards heading into that final drive and had been able to advance the ball into Bears territory in just three of their previous 10 possessions.

In five of those 10 drives, the offense netted 4 yards or fewer, but Wright insisted the confidence level was high heading into the final drive. Wright said he had a talk with his teammates right before they took the first snap and reminded them what the objective was. "We talked about scoring," Wright said.

"That's always the situation you want to be in as a quarterback, to be able to bring your team back, especially in that situation. That is what's frustrating to me. I had an opportunity to win the game as an offense, and in the end, we couldn't get it done. They stopped us from doing what we do best."

It was the first time this season Wright had a chance to lead the Ravens to victory in the closing moments of a game. He does have experience in this department, having engineered the greatest comeback in franchise history by overcoming a 17-point second-half deficit in 2003 against the Seattle Seahawks.

But the Ravens had been able to move the ball throughout that home game against Seattle, while the offense showed little against the Bears. Jamal Lewis was held to 34 yards on 15 carries.

"I think we all felt like, given the right position, that we would go out there, move the ball down the field and put some points on the board," receiver Derrick Mason said. "But what we thought didn't happen. In the game of football, it's not about thinking but about doing what you're capable of doing. What we're capable of doing, it just didn't materialize."

The Bears sat back in a deep zone, rushing just four linemen for most of the game, and they did the same in their final stop. Wright was still sacked four times in the game and completed 18 of 32 passes for 164 yards.

With both safeties cutting the field in half, the Ravens did have a chance on second down of the final drive on a Wright pass to Mason near the sideline. But the throw sailed out of Mason's reach and out of bounds.

"They are the No. 1 defense in the NFC, and they played like it today," Wright said.

"With what they were doing, they were taking away our passing lanes."

The Ravens still had two timeouts and the two-minute warning after the punt, but the Bears converted two first downs and were able to run out the clock. Even if the Ravens could have forced a stop, asking Wright to lead a drive down the field with no timeouts would have seemed virtually impossible.

The real chance was lost when the Ravens were forced to punt.

"Well, that's what you can only hope for," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of his team's final possession.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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