After Ravens-Texans snoozer, C-SPAN looks like must-see TV

Commentary

December 05, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

My mother taught me never to turn my nose up at a win - even if it's against the Houston Texans.

I'm guessing Brian Billick lives by a similar credo, though he has to know that yesterday's 16-15 victory at M&T Bank Stadium left Ravens fans feeling about as empty as an Orioles promise.

The Ravens needed to pound the lowly Texans like a cheap piece of flank steak just to get everyone to tune in for next week's game against the Denver Broncos (which apparently won't be pretty). Instead, they ran for just 73 yards against a rushing defense ranked last in the NFL and were able to work a little last-minute magic only because of a fluke play that accounted for their first defensive touchdown of the year.

The first 59 minutes were so uneventful (which is a nice way of saying that I've seen more action on C-SPAN) that somebody in the press box suggested they put the Bengals and Steelers up on the SmartVision video boards and lower beer prices to try to keep people from going home early.

It probably wouldn't have worked. There were so many no-shows and halftime departures that they could have renamed the place M&T Seat Stadium.

It was not a good sign when one of the highlights of the game was a fourth down that lasted about eight minutes. The Texans punted on fourth-and-seven in the first quarter, then decided to go for it on fourth-and-two after the Ravens jumped offside, then decided to punt again after an illegal procedure penalty, then punted a third time after offsetting penalties.

If you're keeping score at home, that's three punts and four penalties on the same down.

Department of ironic punishment: The last time I was this bored at a sporting event was at Game 3 of the World Series in Houston, where the Astros and Chicago White Sox spent nearly six hours trying to prove that it is possible to lose every member of a national television audience.

Can't say I'm terribly enamored with the Texans' colorful road uniforms, which include a white jersey with red numbering, black pants with white piping and bright red calf-length socks.

They look like a WAC team.

Now that I think about it, they play like one, too.

Got a nice phone call from Sen. Arlen Specter on Friday, a couple of days after I questioned whether he should have raised antitrust concerns about the harsh punishment meted out to Terrell Owens by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Specter explained that he recognized the four-game suspension is allowed under the NFL collective bargaining agreement, but questioned whether the Eagles' power to bench Owens for the remainder of the season is spelled out so clearly.

"In a nutshell, if you have a player boycotted because of the league banding together to keep him from playing, that could be a violation," Specter said.

I'm still guessing that the collective bargaining agreement allows for that to be determined by an arbitrator, which it was, but I'll wait along with Specter to see if the Justice Department feels differently.

The Commander in Chief's Trophy is safely back at the Naval Academy, thanks to Saturday's 42-23 victory over Army, but I want to get to the bottom of last week's unsolved theft of the trophy before it ends up as an episode of Cold Case.

My suspicion today centers on coach Paul Johnson, who went to the hospital with an apparent back spasm the day after the 170-pound trophy temporarily disappeared from Ricketts Hall.

Hmmm.

Congratulations to former Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins running back Joe Washington, who will be among the honorees at a banquet for this year's College Football Hall of Fame inductees in New York tomorrow night.

Washington, who starred at the University of Oklahoma before spending nine seasons in the NFL, will be enshrined along with 12 other college greats this summer in South Bend, Ind.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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