Stover again is difference maker


Veteran kicker regains his aim, bounces back from poor game

October 08, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

San Francisco -- Kicker Matt Stover is the first to admit that he needs the Ravens' offense. The feeling is mutual.

With the offense continuing to struggle to score touchdowns, Stover's right leg accounted for all of the team's scoring in a 9-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Monster Park yesterday.

It was the second time in the past three weeks that the 18-year veteran converted at least three field goals, and the output reaffirmed the team's reliance on Stover.

"He's always messing with you, saying, `I need you, I need you.' And I was like, `No, we need you,'" running back Willis McGahee said.

Much of the past week had been a period of review for Stover, who missed two field-goal attempts in a 27-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 30 -- the first time he had done that since the 2005 season opener.

"I've been working all week to straighten it back out mentally, spiritually as well as physically trying to get it all together," he said. "The big thing was hitting the ball straight like I always have, trust my ability that God gave me and go for it."

Stover connected on field goals of 26 and 32 yards in the second quarter, but his biggest test came in the third quarter when he knocked a 49-yarder through the uprights that eventually would become the game-winner.

"We just hit it through," he said. "Today, I knew I needed to be consistent in order to give our team the best chance to keep the momentum and be able to win this ballgame."

McGahee said Stover was not high on the team's list of concerns.

"We're not worried about Matt," McGahee said. "He's a veteran. He knows what to do."

Nedney misses chance

On the other end of the spectrum, 49ers kicker Joe Nedney missed an opportunity to be the hero, hooking a 52-yard field-goal attempt wide right with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter.

While coach Brian Billick admitted feeling relief and joy at the failed attempt, free safety Ed Reed said he wasn't surprised.

"I was watching the guy kick in pre-game, and I knew that with a long field goal, we had a chance of him missing because he was missing a few," Reed said. "When he missed it, it was a great defensive stand."

Terry hopes to play

While the severity of the injuries to offensive tackle Adam Terry (left ankle) and center Mike Flynn (right knee) won't be determined until today at the earliest, Terry said he would try to be ready for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.

"Strap me up, tape me up and we'll see," said Terry, who was on crutches in the locker room after the game. "I've got no other choice. I've got to take care of my injury. ... I want to go out there and be back hopefully next week."

Flynn and Terry were the only injuries of note, according to team spokesman Kevin Byrne.

Without Terry and 10-time Pro Bowl pick Jonathan Ogden (hyperextended toe), the Ravens have just two healthy tackles on the roster in rookies Jared Gaither and Marshal Yanda. Mike Kracalik is on the practice squad.

Advice for Sypniewski

Before second-year tight end Quinn Sypniewski made his first career start, Billick had one directive for him.

"I told him before the game, `You can't get hurt,'" Billick said.

Injuries to Todd Heap (strained hamstring) and Daniel Wilcox (sprained toe) made Sypniewski the only healthy tight end on the roster. Sypniewski seemed to fare well, catching four passes for 28 yards, but acknowledged that he had help.

"It was like I had three coaches today," Sypniewski said. "I had [tight ends coach] Wade [Harman] up in the booth, and I had Dan and Todd down on the field. So anything they saw, they kind of relayed it to me and helped me out in that respect.

"I definitely had some big shoes to fill, but I enjoyed the opportunity to get out there and hopefully, I made some plays," he added. "It was definitely fun."

Koch goes Hollywood

Punter Sam Koch seemed to fit right in with California.

Koch was on the receiving end of a running-into-the-kicker penalty when 49ers linebacker Brandon Moore made contact with Koch while trying to block his punt. The 5-yard penalty gave the Ravens a first down and helped them run more time off the clock.

Afterward, Koch admitted that what he did was Hollywood.

"He ran into [my kicking leg], so I had to kind of act," he said. "We are out here in California. What better place?"

Scott's drought ends

After four weeks of being unable to sack a quarterback, Bart Scott saw his frustration come to a welcome end.

The linebacker's takedown of the 49ers' Trent Dilfer in the first quarter ended a seven-game drought dating to Dec. 17, when he sacked Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson in the Ravens' 27-17 win.

Scott, who had five sacks in his first five games last season, said he could have had two more yesterday.

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