Start to finish, lost fumbles doom Ravens


December 28, 2007|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

From the messy opener in Cincinnati to Sunday's debacle in Seattle, the Ravens have simply lost their grip on the season, as well as on the ball.

The Ravens have lost 25 fumbles this season, which leads the NFL (by eight) and shatters the team record (by six).

To make matters worse, these fumbles have come at critical times and have come from usually reliable players.

With the Ravens down 12-10 in the opener in Cincinnati, quarterback Steve McNair's throwing arm was hit, and the ball fell into the hands of linebacker Landon Johnson, who returned it 34 yards for a touchdown.

Then, with the Ravens trailing 7-0 in Seattle, running back Mike Anderson's fumble rolled forward to linebacker Leroy Hill, who returned the turnover 20 yards for a touchdown.

In between those games, there were three fumbles at Pittsburgh that led to touchdowns and four fumbles at home against Cincinnati that were converted into field goals.

Of the Ravens' 25 lost fumbles this season, 20 have come in Ravens territory, and nine have resulted in opposing touchdowns.

The Ravens could try running drills to force players to hold on to the ball or have defenders repeatedly try to strip the ball away during practice. But these turnovers are coming from players who normally don't have this problem.

McNair lost seven fumbles in six starts this year, a career high for the 13-year veteran. Last season, he lost one fumble in 16 starts.

Running back Willis McGahee also set a career high this season, losing three fumbles in a six-game span. In his previous three NFL seasons, he lost five fumbles.

As a team, fumbles have never been this much of a problem.

Last season, the Ravens fumbled nine times, the second fewest in their history. This season, 10 players have fumbled (McNair, McGahee, Anderson, Kyle Boller, Le'Ron McClain, Yamon Figurs, Quinn Sypniewski, Ed Reed, Cory Ross and Troy Smith).

During the Ravens' nine-game losing streak, they have fumbled 18 times - which doubles last season's total.

One explanation for the Ravens' fumbles could be the sloppy weather this season. But the Ravens have taken away only five fumbles from opponents.

Some of the Ravens have complained that they never seem to catch a break. But for the most part, they have given their opponents too many of them by fumbling.

Giving it away

The NFL leaders in lost fumbles:

Team Fumbles Record

Ravens 25 4-11 San Fran. 17 5-10 Houston 17 7-8 Wash. 16 8-7 Tenn. 15 9-6

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.