If it weren't for bad luck, Ravens wouldn't have any

ON THE RAVENS

Ravens Gameday

November 19, 2007|By MIKE PRESTON

Unlike last season, when everything went right, there seems to be a black cloud hanging over the Ravens organization.

The Ravens aren't good enough to make their own breaks, and they aren't lucky enough to get any.

It was a different story last season. There were few injuries. They forced a lot of turnovers. They made big plays in crucial situations.

Now, the Ravens turn the ball over a lot. They have been hit hard by injuries. They didn't make enough plays in clutch situations yesterday to win and didn't get the right bounce of the ball on a 51-yard field-goal attempt by Phil Dawson as time expired in regulation to send the game into overtime.

You knew the Ravens were going to lose the coin toss in overtime, right? They can't win a thing. One time yesterday, the Ravens asked for a review of a play, and it was denied because the system was malfunctioning.

That's almost unheard of. Charlie Brown has better luck.

"We're snakebitten," receiver Derrick Mason said. "Weird and strange things keep happening to us, and every time we seem to cross the river, something else comes up. We just have to keep working. Hopefully, we'll find a cure for this snakebite."

The correct call

Forget all the debate about instant replay and whether it works and when it should be used.

The bottom line is that the officials got the call right on Dawson's game- tying field goal.

Some of the Ravens were whining about the call after the game, but here's a suggestion: make a play.

When the game was put in the defense's hands on Cleveland's last offensive series, the Ravens didn't make a play and the Browns made several.

No more whining, fellas.

Question of the day

Why did the Ravens keep kicking to returner Joshua Cribbs? He returned four punts for 61 yards and seven kickoffs for 245 yards, repeatedly giving the Browns good field position.

"I thought, `Oops, here's another one. Why are they kicking to me?' " Cribbs said.

J. Lewis still has it

Is Browns running back Jamal Lewis finished? Hardly. Lewis ran hard and gained 92 yards on 22 carries. By the end of the third quarter, the Ravens were tackling him from the side and not head-on.

The man who replaced Lewis here, Willis McGahee, had 102 yards on 21 carries. But I guarantee you Lewis took more out of the Ravens than McGahee took out of the Browns.

Don't get carried away

Before this town starts going goo-goo over Kyle Boller replacing Steve McNair at quarterback, let's keep it in perspective.

Yes, Boller played fairly well yesterday. Yes, he put intermediate and long-range passes back in the offense. Yes, he made throws that McNair can't make.

But ... he was playing the Browns, who had the worst defense in the NFL, including the No. 31-ranked passing defense.

The Ravens still need a quarterback of the future, but at least Boller gave the offense a desperately needed spark.

Clock mismanagement

On third-and-one from Cleveland's 29-yard line with 35 seconds left in regulation, the Ravens tried one of those short passes in the left flat to tight end Quinn Sypniewski.

I hate that play because Boller doesn't have any touch, and the pass was incomplete. Instead, the Ravens should have just run the ball up the middle. If they got the first down, fine. If not, run the time down before using their final timeout.

Once Stover converted his 47-yard field-goal try, the game would have been over. But Cleveland got the ball with 26 seconds remaining, long enough to set up Dawson's field goal.

Since the Ravens have so many assistant coaches, I suggest they hire one just for clock management. Somebody needs to pay attention to the time.

Stat of the day

The Ravens had 5 yards of total offense in the first quarter and didn't get a first down until there was 1:08 left in the half.

A couple of big hits

Two big hits in the game: Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata delivered a right cross to Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas in the first half, and Ravens guard Jason Brown got creamed while pursuing Browns safety Brodney Pool on his 100-yard interception return in the third quarter.

Brown suffered a mild concussion.

"This is football. Stuff like that's going to happen," Brown said. "I'm not the first guy to ever get hit like that. They have that reel every week: `Jacked Up.' I really wouldn't be surprised if that hit makes that top 10 list."

Ogden's frustration

If you wanted to see frustration in the first half, all you had to do was watch Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden. He couldn't help himself.

With about 10:16 left in the half, after another three-and-out series, Ogden went to the sideline. While the other offensive linemen sat on the bench getting instructions from line coach Chris Foerster, Ogden was staring into space, locked somewhere in between Pluto and Mars.

Even when he sat down, Ogden seemed to have no interest in the game.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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