Ravens having trouble getting just 1 yard

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Tough defenses focus on J. Lewis

Billick doesn't criticize McAlister

November 14, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

For all of the improvement the Ravens' offense has made this season, one of the more difficult gains has been moving 3 feet.

The Ravens have been inconsistent in situations in which the offense is facing either third-and-one or fourth-and-one this season.

When the Titans thwarted Jamal Lewis on third-and-one from Tennessee's 41-yard line in the third quarter of Sunday's 27-26 Ravens win, it marked the second time in three games that the offense was unable to convert a third-and-one.

While the Ravens are a combined 5-for-9 on converting third-and-one and fourth-and-one, coach Brian Billick acknowledged that the offense can't afford to leave those opportunities on the field.

"We've got to get better," he said. "You can't leave those on the table. That's tough. That leaves you vulnerable."

Part of the problem is that the Ravens' reputation precedes them. After years of building a foundation on a power running game fueled by Lewis, opposing defenses are stacking the line of scrimmage in short-yardage situations in anticipation of a run rather than a pass.

"It's hit-or-miss because it's not a regular 4-3 defense or a [3-4] defense. It's more like a goal-line defense," Lewis said after Sunday's victory. "So therefore, it's just like being on the goal line, and it's hard to punch the ball over the goal line sometimes. It's one of those same situations."

Added right tackle Tony Pashos: "They're keyed up on who Jamal is and what we are, and they did a good job on defense."

Still, Lewis said the obstacles the offense has faced are the same ones other teams are trying to overcome.

"That's anywhere in the league," Lewis said. "It's a matter of who's going to go up in the line and execute the best and who's going to get the best push. ... It's either you get it or you don't."

No criticism from Billick

Billick did not criticize cornerback Chris McAlister for head-butting a Tennessee player after quarterback Vince Young rushed 2 yards for a touchdown on the Titans' second series of the game.

Billick's primary reason? Because Billick himself was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third quarter.

"It's an emotional game. I kind of lost my cool a little bit if you all didn't notice," Billick said. "You get into it, and every player and every coach has to make sure that you don't cross that line. ... The thing I liked about it is he kind of reeled himself back in. You can't stick yourself out there and let that emotion show. The key is what you do next and I thought he reeled it back in pretty well."

Mason mentors

Wide receiver Derrick Mason approached the Titans' Adam "Pacman" Jones after the game and offered sage advice for the troubled cornerback.

Jones played in his first game since Tennessee had suspended the second-year player out of West Virginia for getting cited for misdemeanor assault after he was accused of spitting on a woman in a nightclub. It was his third incident since joining the NFL and second since August.

"He is going to be a very, very good player in this league if he concentrates on one thing, and that's football," Mason said. "He just said, `You're right, Derrick, you're right.' He understood. He understood where I was coming from. I didn't say it in a [malicious] way because I hate to see somebody of his caliber and with his potential wasted."

End zone

Billick noted an aspect of quarterback Steve McNair's veteran presence that was on display before the offense took the field for the game-winning drive with 5:09 left in the game.

"They were kind of pumping each other, and I think one of the receivers was saying, `Hey, five minutes. We've got five minutes,'" Billick recalled. "Steve said, `It won't take that long. Let's go.' That's pretty good." ...

Billick said backup quarterback Kyle Boller played the role of Titans rookie quarterback Young last week and will likely fill a similar bill as Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick this week. "Kyle Boller, with his energy, kind of [annoys] the defensive guys because he wears them out a little bit," Billick said. ...

While Young threw for 211 yards, ran for 39, and scored a rushing touchdown, Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce was impressed with Young's strength. "That last scramble he had [a 17-yard gain to put Tennessee in field-goal position on the team's final series], I hit the ball," Pryce said. "I literally hit his hand with the ball. His hand went down, but he still had the ball in his hand. I was like, `Oh, my God.' That kid is something else because I have strong hands, but his hands are stronger."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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