This loss an original

Failure to duplicate Jets' game plan leads to Ravens' downfall

Analysis

Ravens Gameday

December 17, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN REPORTER

MIAMI -- The blueprint for the Ravens yesterday should have been to follow what another bad team, the New York Jets, did to the Miami Dolphins here two weeks ago.

The Ravens should have kept attacking the Dolphins in the first half as they did on their opening drive, when Kyle Boller hit Yamon Figurs on a 36-yard pass for the rookie's first career reception.

They didn't.

The Ravens should have kept the pressure on Miami's inexperienced quarterback, Cleo Lemon, as they did for most of the first half, which ended with the Ravens holding a 10-point lead.

They couldn't.

Apparently, the blueprint the Jets used in crushing the Dolphins by 27 points never made it into the meeting rooms last week in Owings Mills and never made it down to the resort hotel the team stayed at Saturday night.

It certainly didn't make it to Dolphin Stadium yesterday.

The Dolphins deserve credit for a 22-16 overtime victory that prevented them from joining the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the only other team in the NFL's modern era to go through a season without a victory.

But the Ravens never should have let the Dolphins get their confidence, let alone celebrate as if they had won the Super Bowl after Lemon's 64-yard slant pass to second-year backup receiver Greg Camarillo turned into a game-winning, losing-streak-busting touchdown.

"If you don't put a team away in this league and you give them opportunity, you give them breath, they're going to come back," Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "They're playing for pride and they don't want to go throughout the whole season without a win."

The Ravens were almost in the reverse situation psychologically at home against the New England Patriots, but they couldn't convert on a key third down and then lost their collective cool on the Patriots' game-winning drive.

But this wasn't the Patriots, with Tom Brady and Randy Moss dissecting the Ravens' defense. This wasn't the Indianapolis Colts, with Peyton Manning making rookie wide-out Anthony Gonzalez look like Marvin Harrison. This wasn't one of the best teams in the NFL. This was the worst.

The Ravens can make excuses about going into another game without cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, as well as tight end Todd Heap, then losing linebacker Ray Lewis in the second half with a dislocated finger and Boller with a concussion.

But to put this loss and how far the Ravens have fallen in perspective, consider that this was Lemon's first win as a starter since his senior year at Arkansas State in 2000 -- the same season a certain team from Baltimore won the Super Bowl.

Lemon was on the field during three of Miami's six three-point losses this season, and though he looked as if he was going to hand the Ravens a victory when he was sacked late in the game and took his team out of field-goal range, he made at least one play that drew on his experience.

Just as Manning saw that Rolle didn't suit up against the Colts a week ago, Lemon noticed the hole Lewis left in the middle of the defense.

"Ray ... is their emotional leader," Lemon said. "Whenever you have a Hall of Fame player on the field, you have to account for him on every play. When he went out, it didn't make us attack them any differently, but we had them on the ropes. Once we got the momentum, we kept pounding on them and they kind of got fatigued in the second half."

It certainly wasn't from spending the time studying the blueprint on how to beat a winless team.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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