J. Lewis gives shrug


`It's like I got a leash around my neck,' he says after gaining 17 yards on eight carries

Rvanes Gameday

Raven 16 Texans 15


In a two-minute span, Jamal Lewis used analogies involving a song's lyrics and a dog's lifestyle to illustrate his plight this season.

Lewis, in the aftermath of the Ravens' 16-15 win over the Houston Texans, seemed pleased with the outcome, but disenchanted about his role in it. After rushing for 113 yards a week earlier against the Cincinnati Bengals, he had eight carries for 17 yards yesterday.

Just two of those carries came in the second half.

"It's like the song `Hokey Pokey,'" Lewis said. "Jamal's in, Jamal's out. Jamal's in, Jamal's out. What can I do? I just try and help Chester [Taylor] as much as I can, see what he's seeing and try to help him out. I'm not the type of guy that's going to say, `Put me in the game, put me in the game, put me in the game.' "

Taylor, meanwhile, rushed for 40 yards on 11 carries as his team netted 73 yards on the ground against the league's worst rush defense. The Ravens were working with three backup offensive linemen, but Lewis did not necessarily view that as an excuse.

"Last week, you see what happened when I stayed in the game. I got a little momentum going," said Lewis, whose fumble on the opening possession may have contributed to his lack of carries. "Even though it was the Bengals, now it's the Texans, it's the same thing. So I don't know, maybe somebody is scared I'm going to get in there and crank one off for 80, 90 yards or something.

"It's like I got a leash around my neck. When I get things going, somebody pulls it and has me on the sideline over there, riding the pine."

When he did return, he made one of the game's biggest plays, eluding defenders after a catch to get out of bounds after a 7-yard gain on the second play of the Ravens' game-winning field goal drive in the final minute.

Lewis was direct in discussing his mind-set on that play - he felt he had no choice - but cryptic about his role on the team.

"I'll be glad when it's all over," Lewis said of the season. "You all know what's going on. I don't have to say it. Don't make me say it."



Deion Sanders saw the first significant action of his career at safety in place of Will Demps, who is out for the year with a knee injury.

Sanders received an assist in the nuances of the position from the return of Ed Reed, who had missed the previous six games. He and Sanders formed what could be the Ravens' safety tandem for the last quarter of the year.

"It's much easier with Ed Reed on the field," Sanders said. "He's the quarterback of the defense and he did a wonderful job of making sure we were all lined accordingly."

Sanders, who had two tackles, covered the slot receiver in passing situations. Texans quarterback David Carr completed 17 of 37 passes for 165 yards.

Asked if he would be willing to play safety exclusively, Sanders said, "I want to do whatever it takes to help us to win and get our best athletes on the field. We're able to outmatch teams in that way."


Ravens defensive end Terrell Suggs made personal history, recording the first three-sack performance of his career against Texans quarterback David Carr.

Suggs sacked Carr twice on Houston's opening possession, stripping the quarterback, but failing to recover the fumble on the first play. Before yesterday, Suggs had two sacks this season.

"It's always good to try and get on that roll," he said. "It's a little late, but as long as we've still got games left, I've got a chance to go out there and pass-rush. They had some guys down on their offensive line, so I did like any professional would do: took advantage of that and got off to a good start early."


Thomas has been the defense's most valuable player, lining up at various times at linebacker, tackle, end, cornerback and safety. All those skills came in handy when he took a pass that was deflected 15 feet in the air by Jarret Johnson 20 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

The score gave the Ravens a 13-9 lead.

"It took a couple of days for the ball to come down on my clock," Thomas said. "I just knew if I caught it, it was right there on the line of scrimmage. [Johnson] did a great job of tipping it up. ... I felt like I was just like Prime Time [teammate Deion Sanders]."


Ravens kickoff returner B.J. Sams did what he was told to do, so he was unapologetic about what could have been a costly mistake.

Sams called for a fair catch at the Ravens' 10-yard line after a kickoff, even though there was no defender within 20 yards. The Texans, trailing 13-12 with less than four minutes left, lined up as though they might try an onside kick, but did not.

"I did what [the coaches] told me to do, fair-catch the ball," he said. "I was hesitant of fair-catching it. I called it kind of late. Next time, I will most likely overrule [the original call]."

Ravens coaches said they wanted Sams to fair-catch only if he had to run up to receive the ball.


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