No problem summing it up: Giants wanted it more

ON THE RAVENS

August 20, 2007|By MIKE PRESTON

The New York Giants came into M&T Bank Stadium last night and outhit and outhustled the Ravens.

The Ravens can use any excuses they want, but the Giants refused to be intimidated, and pounded one of the NFL's most physical teams. Forget the final score. When this game mattered most in the first half, when the starting units were playing for both teams, New York was the better team.

The Ravens used a lot of combination of blitzes and the Giants were prepared. When New York came with defensive pressure of its own, the Ravens couldn't handle it.

It was much different than a week ago, when the Ravens played at a much higher level than the Philadelphia Eagles en route to a 29-3 victory.

"It started off wrong with penalties and I had a turnover," Ravens quarterback Steve McNair said. "We've just got to go back and continue to work and improve."

At times, the Ravens appeared to get caught up in the emotions of the game. For a preseason encounter, there were a lot of heated moments. The Ravens had nine penalties for 46 yards in the first half, including several for false starts and jumping into the neutral zone.

The Ravens were a team in need of discipline. They can't get this carried away when the games matter.

"We can't let things like that happen, not as a veteran ballclub," linebacker Ray Lewis said,

Rough timing

It wasn't a total disappointment for the Ravens. Despite rushing for only 43 yards on 12 carries in the first half, the Ravens did have some rhythm at times. Their running backs found some nice cutback lanes and some holes up the middle. The timing, though, is still slightly off.

It was nice to see running back Mike Anderson rip off that 21-yarder in the first half. We haven't seen that kind of burst from him since he joined the team last year.

Hopefully, starting cornerback Samari Rolle won't be bothered the entire season by the ankle injury he suffered last night, which was the case last season.

Rolle sprained his ankle early last season but continued to play the remainder of the year. He was victimized for several long passes, though he never used the ankle as an excuse.

He has played well in training camp, but left the game last night after the Giants' first play from scrimmage when he gave up a 13-yard pass to receiver Michael Jennings. X-rays of the ankle were negative.

Stuffed again

The Ravens had problems moving upfield in short-yardage situations last year, and they failed again last night in the first quarter. On fourth-and-one at the Giants' 20-yard line, McNair tried a quarterback sneak and failed to get the yard needed. A major problem was that four of the five starting offensive linemen, with the exception of rookie left tackle Jared Gaither, failed to get any push at the line of scrimmage.

Some Ravens fans booed coach Brian Billick's decision to go for it, but he made the right call. It's preseason, folks. You work on areas where you need improvement. What was he supposed to do, watch Matt Stover kick another field goal? Anyway, the Ravens have to save Stover. At this pace, he'll have a dead leg before the regular season begins.

Not good omen

Against the Eagles, the Ravens were extremely successful in picking up blitzes in the middle of the offensive line. Last night was totally different. It wasn't just a matter of the offensive line getting beat; the running backs also failed to make blocks.

Some of their mistakes were mental and some were physical, but if this continues to happen, McNair might be in for a long season.

Lewis feels pain

Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey caught an 18-yard pass late in the first quarter, and Ray Lewis closed in on him along the right sideline. In years past, Lewis would have put him in the stands with a vicious hit.

Instead, Shockey delivered a blow with his left forearm that stunned Lewis as the linebacker went over the top of him. Ouch.

Boller waits

Backup quarterback Kyle Boller has a strong arm, but he also has to wind up before he throws. He got crushed by Giants defensive tackle Fred Robbins while holding the ball late in the second quarter. Boller had time to throw, but held the ball and patted it like he was cheering at the opera.

In fact, it was reminiscent of the days when you were a kid and listening to the Orioles and Chuck Thompson describe the play: "Boller has the ball. Here's the wind up and the pitch."

Manning on target

You can't blame anyone for the Giants' first-half touchdown when quarterback Eli Manning passed to Steve Smith for a 10-yard score.

The Ravens appeared to be in zone coverage, and Manning threw a perfect, hard pass.

Suggs steams

When Manning fumbled at his 20 with 3:37 left in the first quarter, Ravens defensive end-outside linebacker Terrell Suggs got into a skirmish with a Giants offensive lineman. Suggs apparently thought he was in the boxing ring, because he started backing up and putting up his fists like he was Muhammad Ali.

Sometimes, he just gets too carried away.

Suggs doesn't need the childish behavior, especially the way he played last night. He abused New York left tackle David Diehl.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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