McAlister's hunch pays off

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

He steps in front of Edwards, intercepts Frye late in 4th quarter

Ravens Gameday

Ravens 15 Browns 14

September 25, 2006|By EDWARD LEE | EDWARD LEE,SUN REPORTER

CLEVELAND -- Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister thought he saw a developing pattern.

Faced with the unenviable task of matching up against Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards, McAlister figured that on second-and-goal from the 4-yard line, quarterback Charlie Frye might try to find his favorite target again - as Frye had done on a previous march into the Ravens' red zone.

But unlike that attempt - which led to McAlister getting flagged for pass interference - the eight-year veteran stepped in front of Edwards and came down with an interception in the end zone to give the ball back to the offense with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Three minutes later, kicker Matt Stover converted a 52-yard field goal, and the Ravens walked away from Cleveland Browns Stadium with a 15-14 victory and a 3-0 record.

"They came at me last time down there," McAlister said of his team-leading second interception. "So I had my antenna up and anticipated that they were going to go to him again."

Frye, who completed 21 of 33 passes for 298 yards with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Edwards, could only wish that he had that pass back.

"I was just trying to put the ball where if Braylon can't get it, no one can get it," said Frye, who was hit by linebacker Bart Scott just before he released the ball. "I need to throw that where he can get a touchdown or no one can get it."

McAlister, who returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown in the team's season-opening shutout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two weeks ago, also had two pass deflections yesterday, but it was his interception that helped the Ravens turn a 14-12 deficit into a win.

"That was big," running back Jamal Lewis said. "I was saying, `Just hold them to a field goal.' But that interception came up real big, and that's the type of player that he is, and that's the caliber of defense that we have. They came up with the big one."

McAlister, who has already tied the number of interceptions he made in the previous two seasons, was philosophical about his re-emergence this season.

"[I'm] blessed [with] teammates and ... I'm focused more so than I have been in the past two years," he said. "I've got a great group of guys around me, a great staff, and they continue to do a great job of putting us in a position as a defense to make plays."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

Suggs' hamstring OK; Hobbled Heap plays

The only injury of note was the sore right hamstring of linebacker Terrell Suggs, who pulled up after flushing Frye out of the pocket early in the fourth quarter.

"I'm feeling good," said Suggs, who is tied with fellow linebacker Adalius Thomas for second on the team in sacks with three each. "I should be all right. I don't know exactly what it is, but you all will know next week."

Tight end Todd Heap played on a sore ankle that he injured Friday night. The injury didn't seem to bother him too much as he caught five passes for 36 yards and the offense's only touchdown.

"I was real worried that I was even going to be able to play today," Heap said. "I wasn't sure. ... It was swollen up pretty good, but luckily I was able to get in there."

The Ravens deactivated wide receivers Devard Darling and Clarence Moore, cornerbacks David Pittman and Derrick Martin, running backs P.J. Daniels and Cory Ross, linebacker Dan Cody and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards.

The Browns' game-day scratches included four starters in running back Reuben Droughns (shoulder), wide receiver Joe Jurevicius (ribs), defensive end Orpheus Roye (shoulder) and cornerback Gary Baxter (pectoral). Tight end Darnell Dinkins, defensive lineman Nick Eason and offensive lineman Isaac Sowells also did not play, and Ken Dorsey was the team's third quarterback.

STILLS STEPS IN FOR SUGGS

Suggs' absence paved the way for Gary Stills to see some extended playing time, and Stills took advantage of his opportunity.

With Cleveland trying to convert a last-gasp effort with 15 seconds left in the game, Stills tackled wide receiver Joshua Cribbs after a 6-yard gain, dislodged the ball from Cribbs' grasp and recovered the fumble to cement the game.

"Really, I didn't expect to put a blow on him like that because I thought he caught me out of the corner of his eye, but he didn't," Stills said. "So I just laid the right shoulder on him and kind of made him give it up. I was excited. I was just a guy coming after Suggs got a little injured. I came in, made a big play, and that gave me a little confidence."

ELEMENT OF SURPRISE WORKS FOR PRYCE

Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce used the element of surprise to his advantage.

Pryce thinks that the Browns' unfamiliarity with his pass-rush techniques contributed to Pryce posting his first multi-sack performance since Dec. 21, 2003.

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