Three's company for Ravens backs


October 10, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Reporter

DENVER -- For the first time this season, the Ravens' running game-by-committee was in session.

The trio of Jamal Lewis, Musa Smith and Mike Anderson saw considerable playing time in the team's first loss of the season, a 13-3 setback to the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High last night.

Lewis led the team in rushing with 15 carries for 43 yards, but Anderson was second with five attempts for 31 yards, including back-to-back 10-yard gains to open the fourth quarter.

Smith, who gained 14 yards on three carries, led the Ravens in receiving with six catches for 53 yards.

The Ravens' use of all three running backs was notable in that Lewis was the primary workhorse in the team's first four games. Before last night, he had averaged more than 18 carries per contest.

By comparison, Smith had averaged a little bit more than three over the same span, while Anderson had averaged just over two.

Anderson, who was returning to the place that he had called home for the first six years of his career, said he put the pressure on himself to make plays for the offense.

"I was just getting thrown in there and trying to make something happen," Anderson said. "As a player, when you get an opportunity, you want to go into a game and try to do that. That's a way of lobbying for more time."

Smith, who had impressed the coaching staff enough to leapfrog Anderson on the depth chart during the preseason, said quarterback Steve McNair did a credible job of finding Smith on screen passes that yielded big gains.

"I was feeling it," Smith said. "I was catching balls and turning upfield and trying to make yards after the catch."

After the game, team spokesman Kevin Byrne said that Lewis had suffered a mild concussion, but it was unclear how much that injury factored into the coaches' decision to play Anderson and Smith.

Coach Brian Billick didn't put too much stock in the rotation, saying, "It was just whoever had the hot hand, we kept going with that."

Low-key homecoming

Anderson and defensive end Trevor Pryce returned to Denver after they were purged from the Broncos as part of the club's plan to relieve a bloated salary cap, but neither expressed much sentimentality.

"I have absolutely none because I don't play here anymore," Pryce said. "It's business. It is good to be home, but it is not emotional."

Anderson said several Denver players engaged in what he called "friendly chatter" during the game.

"I wanted to come in here and walk away with a win," he said. "But for whatever reason, it's hard to beat the Broncos in this stadium."

Brown makes debut

Left guard Jason Brown made a solid if unspectacular 2006 debut as a starter.

Brown, a fourth-round pick in 2005 who was making his second career start in place of left guard Edwin Mulitalo (torn right triceps), was athletic on pulls and blunted Denver's pass rush.

Brown's only gaffes were allowing defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban to split him and left tackle Jonathan Ogden to sack Steve McNair for a 9-yard loss on the opening possession of the game and a 5-yard false-start penalty that contributed to a stalled drive inside the Broncos' 40-yard line.

"It was a slow start adjusting because nothing can compare to game experience," Brown said. "But I did adjust and I picked it up. I'm very glad I had this experience under my belt. It's invaluable."

Said Billick: "I'm sure he did fine, but I'll have to take a look at [the film]. It's kind of hard to tell what an in-line player does until you get a look at it after the game."

Moore gets in game

The Ravens activated wide receiver Clarence Moore for only the second time this season, but Moore wasn't much of a factor. His only appearance of note occurred just before halftime when a poorly thrown fade from McNair to Moore was intercepted by cornerback Champ Bailey in the end zone.

"I was kind of deep already, so I tried to come back and try to make a play like at least breaking it up," said Moore, who did not catch a pass in his only other contest this season against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 17. "But I couldn't come through. Champ made a great play."

Moore refused to say that he might've caught the ball if McNair had heaved it toward the back of the end zone.

"I don't think that was the case that time," Moore said. "It was a play where the ball was thrown up, and I was given a chance, and I didn't come through on my side of the deal for Steve."

Injury update

The Ravens had a few injuries during the game, the most notable being a chest injury to cornerback Corey Ivy, who will undergo X-rays later today.

Ivy, who was injured while covering a punt return in the third quarter, did return to the game and said afterward that he did not anticipate missing Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

"I shouldn't miss any time," Ivy said. "I'm going to try to hold up my end of the bargain and go out there on Sunday."

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