Ravens' line feels heat

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Boller sacked 6 times

Darling's breakout: 4 catches, 107 yards, TD

Ravens Gameday

November 19, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

The strange ending to the Ravens' 33-30 loss to the Cleveland Browns was nearly matched by the play of the Ravens' offensive line.

A unit that had begun to show flashes of potential, was battered and bruised by the Browns' defense, which entered the game ranked last in the NFL in yards, first downs and points allowed.

"We had our ups and downs," guard Chris Chester said. "I gave up a couple pressures. As a unit, though, I think we played in a pretty productive manner. But of course, there were things we need to get cleaned up."

One of those is pass protection.

Quarterback Kyle Boller was sacked six times and pressured twice - one of which led to safety Brodney Pool's 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter. The Browns, who had 11 sacks entering yesterday's game, finished with six.

"We knew he was the type of quarterback that didn't like pressure in his face," defensive end Orpheus Roye said. "So we brought a little pressure to get him rattled early."

Boller was sacked three times in first half, and the offense gained just 38 yards and two first downs.

The tide started to turn in the second half. Although Boller was sacked three more times, he also found enough time to connect on 17 of 30 passes for 255 yards and throw a game-tying 27-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Devard Darling.

In the second half, the offense registered 330 yards and 21 first downs. And the line also opened enough holes for running back Willis McGahee to rush for 102 yards on 21 carries - his third 100-yard game this season.

Darling's big day

Lost in confusion of whether Phil Dawson's 51-yard field goal was good at the end of regulation was Darling's career day.

Darling, who earned extended playing time because Demetrius Williams was out with high ankle sprain, caught four pass for 107 yards. He had caught just two passes for 5 yards in his first three seasons.

"Just going out there and executing," the team's third-round draft pick in 2004 said. "I was just waiting for my time to get out there and shine, and the Lord gave me the opportunity, and I capitalized on it."

Losing his temper

Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata uncharacteristically lost his cool yesterday.

Ngata was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after he unloaded a punch at Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas' head on the game's first series.

Ngata said he thought Thomas was trying to injure him by going for his legs during a scramble for a fumble.

"I saw his helmet, and I was just [ticked]," Ngata said afterward. "I was just like, `What are you trying to do?' I didn't want him to think that he could just do anything."

J. Lewis' return

Running back Jamal Lewis punctuated his return to Baltimore by scoring on a 1-yard plunge to give the Browns a 10-0 lead in the second quarter.

Lewis, who had 64 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in the teams' first meeting, finished with 92 yards on 22 attempts yesterday.

"It was very emotional," said Lewis, who was mildly cheered by the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium during introductions. "I just knew [the Ravens] were going to be fired up and ready because that's just their mentality. So I had to kind of match their tempo, and I knew our team would follow."

Lewis' exuberance included a 15-yard taunting penalty after he spiked the ball on the Ravens' sideline after completing a 25-yard catch-and-run.

"It was stupid," he said. "I shouldn't have done it. I was caught up in the moment."

A long runback

Pool's interception return for a touchdown set two records.

Not only was it the longest in Browns history, but it also was the longest surrendered by a Baltimore pro football team.

"It feels great to get a record like that - especially since it helped us win," he said. "Thank God I was in the right place to catch the pass and bring it all the way back."

Injury report

Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce said he tore his pectoral muscle, but added that he did not think the injury would sideline him for the rest of the season.

Right guard Jason Brown suffered a concussion while attempting to tackle Pool during his interception return, but Brown returned to the game.

Defensive tackle Justin Bannan suffered an ankle injury. His status for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers is unclear.

Up-and-down ride

The game-ending sequence was a roller-coaster ride for Ravens fans, too.

"We thought we won, and then we lost," Tim Donovan of Perryville said. "We were right behind the Ravens' bench. You see [coach Brian] Billick go downstairs and he's smiling. The second time he's frowning."

Fans who left the stadium thinking Dawson's field-goal try was no good were prohibited from re-entering. Many were on the concourse outside the gates as the overtime played out.

Dominic Cantalupo of Pasadena said he got back in but didn't make it to his seat.

"They wouldn't let anybody back in at one exit and we came back to this exit and they said, `Come on back in.' I guess they kind of relented," Cantalupo said.

End zone

Ray Lewis notched his third career interception return for a touchdown and 25th career interception. He trails only free safety Ed Reed, who has intercepted 32 career passes. ... The Ravens committed a season-low two penalties - their fewest since Dec. 15, 2002, against the Houston Texans.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Don Markus contributed to this article.

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