McNair mirror image of Boller?

August 27, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

Here's a scary thought that occurred to me during the first half of the Ravens' 30-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night:

Is it just me, or does it look like Steve McNair has begun to morph into Kyle Boller instead of the other way around? That would be heresy, of course. McNair is a proven winner who was acquired to lead the Ravens out of the wilderness, and he looked like every bit the savior during his opening drive in the first preseason game against the New York Giants.

He also was acquired -- at least ostensibly -- to aid in the proper development of young Kyle, who was thrown to the wolves too soon and only now seems to be getting his feet underneath him.

So, which quarterback settled for the short routes for two quarters Friday and which one actually succeeded in throwing the ball downfield?

McNair completed a healthy percentage of his passes, but his longest completion was for 11 yards. Boller, albeit against a lesser defensive alignment, hit Clarence Moore with a 44-yard pass and converted in the red zone to account for the only Ravens touchdown.

There's no reason to panic, of course. It's only the preseason, though the third exhibition game is the one in which you're supposed to get the best look at your projected offensive and defensive units ... and the starting offense didn't look too swift.

One of the Rave TV commentators -- I'm not sure whether it was Dick Stockton or Daryl Johnston -- insisted throughout the first half that coach Brian Billick was trying not to expose too much of his playbook to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will host the Ravens in the regular-season opener Sept. 10.

I'm sure there is an element of truth to that, but Billick's jaw was clamped so tight every time the camera found him on the sideline that I've got to believe he was sincerely trying to bite through his lower mandible to block out the pain of watching his team sleepwalk around the Metrodome.

The Fox 45 broadcast crew wasn't exactly in regular-season form either, but that's OK because there won't be any local regular-season broadcasts. The main camera fell for the play fake and viewers missed Boller's exciting scramble for the only Ravens touchdown, though there were plenty of replays.

There also were some framing and camera-angle issues, but I guess we're all a bit spoiled by the number of stationary cameras used during the NFL's network broadcasts.

On the positive side, pre-game host Bruce Cunningham's voice was clear and he managed to affect a raffish windblown look even though the game was played indoors at the Metrodome.

I have to admit I'm a little surprised at the outcome of a Forbes Magazine survey that ranked the "drunkest" metropolitan areas in America. Baltimore/Washington ranked only 20th, based on a formula that factors in state alcohol laws, number of drinkers, number of heavy drinkers, number of binge drinkers and incidence of alcoholism to create a sort of drunk index.

Philadelphia ranked ninth, which may support the position of dozens of e-mailers who blasted me recently for stereotyping Eagles fans as, to put it kindly, irresponsible drinkers. Philly ranked right behind Pittsburgh and well behind Milwaukee, which earned top honors as the nation's "drunkest" city.

So, Iggles fans, either I owe you an apology or you're just not trying hard enough.

Track star Justin Gatlin said Friday that he has no idea how a banned substance got into his body, and I was all set to blast him for his lack of originality until I heard that his lawyer is expected to appeal the positive drug test and argue that a vengeful massage therapist rubbed steroid cream into his skin. That's one of the reasons I don't go to massage therapists. The other reason is that they charge by the square foot.

Today's funny headline comes from The Onion, the top news satire site on the Web: Fake Outrage Over Steroid Use Reaches Fake Fever Pitch.

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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