Clayton is the set-up man

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

For second straight week, receiver makes big plays on final drive

October 02, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Reporter

For the second time in as many weeks, wide receiver Mark Clayton made significant plays on the Ravens' final drive, helping the team complete another comeback victory.

And for the second consecutive time, Clayton shrugged off accolades, this time for his role in the Ravens' 16-13 win against the San Diego Chargers.

The first-round pick in the 2005 draft didn't score or lead the team in receiving yards, but Clayton turned in two receptions for 30 yards on the Ravens' final series - a drive that ended with quarterback Steve McNair's 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Todd Heap.

"Whatever it took to help this team win," Clayton said of his contributions. "But I say that the play that Heap made is by far the biggest play of the drive."

Clayton's modesty may have worked with the media, but not with his teammates. Fellow wide-out Derrick Mason praised Clayton's performance.

"He's making the play when the play needs to be made," Mason said. "That's all you ask for, and Mark realizes that like last week, you might catch eight balls and in another week, you might only catch three or four. But those three that you catch may change the complexion of the game. Those two catches at the end, that's what happened."

Clayton's receptions on the team's final possession were yardage gainers. On second-and-seven from the Ravens' 48, Clayton nestled into a gap between cornerback Antonio Cromartie and free safety Marlon McCree and hung on to a 17-yard pass from McNair that floated over a leaping Cromartie.

Two plays later, Clayton found another hole in San Diego's defense and hauled in a 13-yard dart from McNair that gave the Ravens first-and-goal from the Chargers' 10.

Clayton said part of his success on the final drive was that San Diego appeared to be playing it safe, dropping its corners to prevent a big play over the top of the defense.

"They did sit back a little bit," Clayton said. "It's that free release where you can show them speed to make them get back and find holes underneath."

Still, Clayton declined to accept much credit for this showing.

"Like I said, I'll do whatever it takes to help this team win," he said. "Just get open, catch the ball and make plays because as a receiver, that's your job."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

Mulitalo injury might be serious

Left guard Edwin Mulitalo, who has started 102 of the 106 games in which he has played for the Ravens in his eight-year career, said he tore a muscle near his right elbow and could be out for an extended period of time.

Mulitalo, who left yesterday's game in the fourth quarter, said he injured his elbow while trying to open a hole for running back Jamal Lewis and likely will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today.

"It's not doing too good," Mulitalo said of his elbow, which was in a sling after the game. "It's torn. Tomorrow, I'll get some pictures and pretty much go from there."

Mulitalo was the only Ravens injury of note from yesterday's game. Linebacker Terrell Suggs, who did not practice much last week because of an injured right hamstring, played yesterday and afterward he said the hamstring felt fine. Safety Ed Reed started and did not aggravate his foot injury.

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

Mixed bagfor Wilcox

Daniel Wilcox had the kind of up-and-down day that exemplified his team's adventure.

The tight end drew thunderous applause when he caught a pass from Steve McNair and rumbled into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown that helped the Ravens tie San Diego 7-7 midway through the first quarter.

But that applause seemed like a distant memory in the third quarter when Wilcox, after taking a shovel pass from McNair, was stopped 1 yard short of the end zone by Chargers linebacker Stephen Cooper and was stripped of the football. The ball was eventually recovered by linebacker Donnie Edwards at San Diego's 3 and ended the Ravens' first opportunity to take the lead.

"I got rocked going into the end zone, and that's something that doesn't normally happen to me," Wilcox said. "I was kind of out of my wits for a second, but the guys came up to me and backed me up and said, `It's all right, man. Hold your head up, Wilcox, because you're coming back in and we're going to keep fighting.' We just stuck together and pulled this thing out."

Ravens credit crowd noise

Many of the Ravens players and coach Brian Billick singled out the crowd of 70,743 for causing enough noise to wreak havoc with the Chargers' offense late in the game.

On San Diego's penultimate possession, guard Kris Dielman and tackle Shane Olivea were flagged for false starts on consecutive plays, turning a first-and-10 from the 9 into a first-and-17 from the 2.

The Chargers were eventually forced to punt from their end zone and opted to take a safety, which led to the Ravens' game-winning drive.

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