Ravens' Heap, Williams step up

Tight end, wide-out make big plays for injured receiving unit

December 21, 2009|By Ken Murray | ken.murray@baltsun.com

So this is what the Ravens' offense looks like when Todd Heap and Demetrius Williams get involved: touchdowns to the right, touchdowns to the left, touchdowns all over the place.

Down two wide-outs because of injury, the Ravens turned to their veteran tight end and their deep-threat apprentice Sunday to make a mockery of the Chicago Bears. Heap snared touchdown passes on the team's first two possessions, and Williams buried the Bears with a spectacular catch in the end zone in the third quarter.

In fact, quarterback Joe Flacco had his choice of touchdowns on the 32-yard strike he threw to Williams three minutes into the second half. There, in an underneath route, was a wide-open Heap. And beyond him, Williams raced for the end zone, step-for-step with cornerback Charles Tillman.

Feeling confident in Williams, Flacco went for the home run.

"I had one-on-one with him," Flacco said after the 31-7 rout pushed the Ravens closer to a postseason berth. Williams "did a great job of going up for the ball. And I had trust that he was going to get it for me.

"Todd came off the sideline and said, 'Yeah, it's a good thing you threw a touchdown there, because you had one to me if you didn't get that one.' So it was a good thing I completed it, because I would have been [mad] at myself, too, if I didn't throw it."

Heap's 14-yard touchdown catch on a slant to beat Corey Graham to the left was his first visit to the end zone since Week 2. His 7-yard scoring catch, beating Graham again, on the next series matched his season total of two touchdowns - less than 13 minutes into the game.

Playing without wide-outs Mark Clayton (knee) and Kelley Washington (ankle), the Ravens were able to move Heap into favorable matchups against Graham.

"They were going to play one of two defenses, and when they came out and lined up the way they did, my eyes lit up a little bit, and Joe's did as well," Heap said. "Both touchdowns, we got the looks that we wanted."

The Ravens' proficiency in a wind chill of 20 degrees said a lot about their resilience in the passing game, and a lot about the Bears' secondary.

"Some teams in certain personnel groups put corners out there," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "But this is one of the few teams that brings in a third safety, so when they bring a third safety and we go two tight ends, it was a way for us to get Todd a matchup on a safety instead of a corner. We saw they had done that against Green Bay and felt like we'd take advantage of it. But the bottom line is, it's all good, fine and dandy, but if you don't execute, it doesn't matter. It was great execution by Todd and Joe."

Chris Chester, who started 10 games at right guard before giving way to Marshal Yanda, was the second tight end in on that package.

Flacco threw for 234 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, playing pitch and catch with his receivers.

Derrick Mason, playing the 200th game of his 13-year NFL career, led with six catches for 87 yards and one touchdown. Heap pulled down five for 56 and two scores, and Williams grabbed four for 71 (averaging 17.8 per catch).

Flacco referred to Williams' 32-yarder as "that ridiculous catch in the end zone." It was reminiscent of the 34-yard catch he made a week ago at the 5-yard line against the Detroit Lions, going up for a high throw.

"When you see guys making plays like that, it gives you all the trust in the world," Flacco said. "It makes me want to give them more plays, give them more chances. It was great to get Todd in there, get him going, get him some touchdown passes - a lot of fun."

Williams had six catches for 116 yards the past two games against NFC North teams. He had one catch for 17 in the first 12 games.

"Really, his lack of playing time was a tribute to how well Mark Clayton was playing at times and Kelley Washington," Cameron said. "Now they're both down and he stepped up. He's really bought in to what we're doing. He's been playing at a pretty high level at practice. Unfortunately [for Williams], the other guys were playing well, too. We kept telling him to stay ready, and he stayed ready. I think a lot of credit goes to Demetrius."

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