Sudden shift of fortune

Field-goal misses, fumble mark trying turnaround for Stover, Figurs

Special teams

Ravens Gameday

October 01, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Reporter

CLEVELAND -- A week ago, Matt Stover kicked the game-winning field goal for the Ravens as time ran out to give the team a hang-on-for-dear-life victory against the Arizona Cardinals at M&T Bank Stadium.

A week ago, Yamon Figurs broke free for a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown and was named the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Week

Fortunes changed drastically for the 18-year veteran and the rookie from Kansas State yesterday in the Ravens' 27-13 loss at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Stover missed two of four field-goal tries -- the first time he had more than one miss in a game since he botched three in the 2005 season opener against the Indianapolis Colts -- and Figurs fumbled to set up a second-quarter touchdown for the Browns.

"You've got to look at mechanics," Stover said. "You've got to look at your mind. You've got to look at where you were. ... Did you allow things to get to you too much.

"You've got to shake it off and go to the next game. You don't ever want to miss more than one -- you don't ever want to miss one."

Both Stover's misses were wide right, first from 46 yards and later from 41.

"I slipped a little bit on the 46-yarder and that is why I missed it," said Stover, who was 8-for-9 on field-goal attempts before yesterday. "I was not as consistent as I would have liked to have been. Any time you miss a field goal, you view it as a turnover."

Figurs, who had trouble fielding punts and kickoffs early in training camp, thought he was about to break another long return before the ball was popped loose by former Raven Darnell Dinkins and recovered by the Browns at the Ravens' 31-yard line.

"I saw the seam and I went for it and I didn't protect the ball," a dejected Figurs said. "I've got to go back to practice and work on it."

Rookie linebacker Antwan Barnes said it wasn't just Stover and Figurs who struggled on special teams.

"It was sort of everybody," Barnes said. "It's up to Yamon to practice harder and for us to encourage him that everything's all right. It's a long season, and people make mistakes. There are going to be days when things like this happen, and he's got to bounce back."

The Ravens had trouble on special teams from the start. Joshua Cribbs ran the opening kickoff 41 yards to the Ravens' 45 to give the Browns good field position. Cleveland drove the remaining 55 yards and scored, taking the momentum they never relinquished.

After Figurs' fumble, the Ravens still had a chance to get some momentum back when Phil Dawson missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt. But Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister was called for a neutral zone infraction, giving the Browns a first down. Six plays later, Jamal Lewis scored from the 1.

McAlister seemed surprised that he was called offside.

"If they said I was, I guess the refs always get it right," McAlister said. "I wasn't rushing either, so I don't know how I was offside."

Special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr. said he won't approach the preparation for Sunday's game in San Francisco differently because the Ravens lost.

"You've got to get better every week," Gansz said. "This is too good a football team to sit around and sob about it. We know obviously there's a lot of things we need to work on. We'll go back and work on them. It's a long season."

Gansz said he would deal with Stover and Figurs in the same way.

"You try to be consistent with everybody," Gansz said. "I can't go in there and all of a sudden start whining. I'm going to go in there and make the corrections and attack the problems and move on."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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