Rolle takes heat after being burned twice

Targeted all game, corner has tough day vs. Panthers

Panthers 23 Ravens 21

Ravens Gameday

October 16, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

As a cornerback, the Ravens' Samari Rolle is used to being under scrutiny.

So after giving up a pair of touchdowns in the 23-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium yesterday, the former Pro Bowl player didn't duck the media that hovered around his locker.

"They got our number today," he said. "They've got good players, and we just didn't play very well, especially me."

Rolle was Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme's favorite target. Delhomme threw the ball in Rolle's direction 11 times, completing eight for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

Rolle's first gaffe occurred in the second quarter, with the Panthers threatening with a first-and-10 at the Ravens' 42-yard line.

On the snap, Delhomme pumped and then lofted the ball to Drew Carter streaking down the left sideline. Rolle began to lose ground at about the 8-yard line, and Carter caught the pass in the end zone to give Carolina a 10-7 lead with 4:16 left in the first half.

Rolle said he wasn't surprised by the play call, saying, "We know that when he comes in, it's always deep. I just didn't make an adjustment to the ball, and he made a play."

On the second touchdown, the Panthers began the drive at their 28. On first down, Delhomme said he was looking for wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson down the left sideline, but spotted wide receiver Steve Smith cutting across the middle and waving his hand.

Delhomme floated a deep pass down the middle to Smith, and he outraced Rolle to the front right corner of the end zone for a 72-yard touchdown that gave the Panthers a 23-14 lead with 4:15 remaining in the game.

Rolle said the plan was to double-team Smith with Rolle on the outside and a safety - according to Smith, it was Ed Reed - on the inside, but the help never came.

"It happened," Rolle said. "I was on him on the outside, and he caught it. So, my fault."

Said Smith: "I knew the safety - Ed Reed - was off to the right. He went over, so that's why I crossed the field."

Said Ravens coach Brian Billick of the play: "I imagine somebody was supposed to stay with him. Most defenses are designed that way."

Rolle wasn't the only culprit in a Ravens defense that allowed Delhomme to throw for 365 yards, the fifth most against the team in franchise history.

Fellow cornerback Chris McAlister was flagged for pass interference and illegal contact, and the unit - which had averaged 3.6 sacks per game - could bring down Delhomme just once yesterday.

The second touchdown was perhaps more deflating because it occurred after the Ravens had shaved a nine-point deficit to two after wide receiver Mark Clayton took a deflected pass 62 yards for a touchdown with 4:33 left.

But Rolle's teammates weren't ready to give up on the cornerback.

"He's one of the best corners in the league," safety Gerome Sapp said. "We definitely have faith. He's proven to be the caliber of corner that he is."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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