Fans head for the exits early

Team called `tough to watch' by frustrated fans who walked out

Ravens Gameday

November 12, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

This is how bad it has gotten for Joe and Patrick McNeave.

In the waning minutes of the Ravens' 21-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the father and son duo from Bel Air stood outside M&T Bank Stadium last night trying to sell a pair of tickets.

To the Ravens' game against the Indianapolis Colts.

On Dec. 9.

Four weeks away.

"I just want to sell them now because I'm disappointed in the team," said Patrick McNeave, 24, who usually sits in Section 553. "Maybe it's more of my emotions speaking right now, but it's tough to watch this team."

The announced crowd of 71,130 began its exodus shortly after quarterback Steve McNair's second turnover of the contest led to Shayne Graham's third field goal of the game, and the stadium was practically empty in the fourth quarter after three successive fumbles by running back Willis McGahee, returner Cory Ross and McNair led to more field goals that made the score 21-0 Bengals.

"I feel very upset that the Ravens lost to a defense like Cincinnati's," said Joe McNeave, 49.

The McNeaves were just two of the fans disappointed, disillusioned and uninterested in a Ravens team that seems to be straying further and further from the preseason expectations that accompanied an organization that went 13-3 and captured the AFC North last season.

Christopher Coe of Glen Burnie was one of the fans who left his seat exasperated in the final quarter.

"The play-calling is awful," said Coe, 31 who hung around outside the stadium with his brother Jason, 28, and friend Tony Tomshack, 30, also of Glen Burnie. "I think the secondary is breaking down, and some of the high-profile guys like [Ed] Reed and [Ray] Lewis - I don't want to say they're giving up, but they're not playing to their usual level."

Tomshack fingered what he perceived as a me-first attitude among the players. "I think Adalius Thomas was right," Tomshack said, referring to the former Ravens and current New England Patriots linebacker's assertion that the Ravens sought the spotlight at the expense of a team-wide objective.

"During that game against Pittsburgh [which the Steelers won, 38-7], the players were beating their chests after making tackles," Tomshack continued. "They were losing! They've got too many superstars on the team."

Brian Schmidhauser, 42, of Reisterstown put the blame squarely on coach Brian Billick and suggested that the coach's game plans are stale.

"We need a different offensive coordinator and different play-calling," Schmidhauser said. "The defense is fine, but the offense stinks."

The McNeaves aimed their criticism at the quarterback position.

"McNair is not the answer," Joe McNeave said. "And Kyle Boller definitely isn't the answer. Let Troy Smith play. We drafted him in the fifth round and he's a Heisman Trophy winner, right? Let's see what he can do."

The outlook doesn't appear to be rosy. The Ravens still have to play three division leaders - the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks - in the remaining seven games.

"They're going to kick our butts like there's no tomorrow," predicted John Kutcher, 41, of Bel Air. "The season's over."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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