Quoth the Raven? Reaching into Poe's bag of tricks

November 01, 2005|By RICK MAESE

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh-- --The Baltimore Ravens playing on Halloween. How fitting. The team's namesake, Edgar Allan Poe - a writer, a poet, a critic, an all-around crazy guy - would surely have appreciated it. His 19th-century work was the most macabre and dark of the Romantics.

His most famous piece, The Raven, was published 160 years ago and still stands as the prototype for horror. Of course, in Baltimore it hardly scares us anymore. That's because this season football fans have seen just how scary a Raven can be. Ol' Edgar, who's buried less than a mile from M&T Bank Stadium in downtown Baltimore, would understand true terror if he'd been writing about this team.

Once upon a Pitt night dreary, in they entered, meek and weary,

Over a faint and curious volume of deafening snore,

While others nodded, nearly napping, you'd think suddenly they'd start a-tapping,

Or at the least, a gentle rapping, desperate anguish at basement's door.

Even Edgar couldn't have come up with a plot line like this season's. What twisted writer knocks off all the main characters midway through the story? And you just know last night's was the one contest Edgar would've had circled on his calendar. But without Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, without Kyle Boller and Alan Ricard, the Ravens stumbled in with few expectations.

Just a couple of months ago, the Ravens seemed like Super Bowl contenders. Instead, on Halloween, they were in third place, trying to avoid a tie for the cellar.

Jamal, Ray, Kyle and the rustling of our purple curtain

Thrilled us - nearly killed us with terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of hearts, we stood their pleading,

"Do you even want out from the basement floor?"

The NFL put the game in Pittsburgh, where you never know if fans are dressed up because of a holiday or because it's just another Sunday. Needless to say, they're scary. And not Terrell Suggs-coming-at-you scary, either. It was dark, their faces were painted. A night for tricks, not treats.

The Ravens entered last night's game with the worst scoring offense in the league. They'd managed only one rushing touchdown.

Deep into the darkness peering, we all stood there wondering, fearing,

Losing, forgetting dreams we all foolishly dared to dream before;

But our despair was unbroken, and Coach Brian shared no token,

And the words were spoken, to the sidelines, Ravens, we implore, "Please score!"

This we whispered, but the echoes, they misheard, asking us, "Please score?"

Merely this, and nothing more.

All expectations long ago wilted. We like stories with conflict. The Ravens have that. But we also enjoy tales with a hero. There is still time for someone to play the role. But who?

This season's story doesn't end for another two months.

An ebony bird beguiled Charm City's fancy into smiling,

The knowing and glowing decorum of Coach Brian, wore this bird, the dark Raven.

"Though thy hopes be shorn and shaven," he said, "We art sure not cavin!'"

Mostly grim and weakend stave'n, wandering from the Sunday shore -

"Tell me why our Colts' heir, responds naught as we implore, "Please score!"

"Please score!"

Many fine writers got their start by covering sporting events. And as motley a lot as you might find in a pressbox - we actually look somewhat normal on a night like Halloween - I'm not sure Edgar would have fit in.

And the guy already had problems. I'm not sure how well he could have tolerated watching the Ravens' offense continually stop short of the end zone and the defense continually draw personal foul flags.

While fans scream "Please score," Edgar'd be begging, "No more!"

"Coach!" said I, "thing of Genius -- besieged and beset, by fans and press

"By that Bowl that bends above us - by that Trophy we all adore -

"Tell us all with sorrow burdened, knowing well we're all hurtin',

"Can youl you reach that Steeled maiden whose foot stands on the cellar door?" An answer calls - `Jimmy Ray from Canton' - pleading, "Please score." Quoth the Ravens, `Nevermore.'

rick.maese@baltsun.com

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