Tight End Has Second Straight Game With Two Td Receptions

Todd Heap

December 28, 2009|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,edward.lee@baltsun.com

PITTSBURGH -- Another week, another two-touchdown performance for Todd Heap.

The tight end, who had almost become the forgotten man in the offense, grabbed some of the spotlight and turned into a scoring threat for the Ravens in the team's 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Heap, who caught five passes for 56 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-7 rout of the Chicago Bears on Dec. 20, caught just two passes against the Steelers, both for touchdowns.

Both of Heap's scores came against smaller defensive backs, which raised his eyebrows.

"It was surprising," he said. "We were expecting maybe a safety to come out there on me, but I feel good about either matchup."

On the first touchdown pass, Heap - marked by Pittsburgh cornerback Deshea Townsend - ran along the left sideline. With Townsend slightly ahead of him, Heap turned back toward an underthrown pass by quarterback Joe Flacco, leaped to catch the ball at about the 4-yard line, and tumbled over the goal line.

The 30-yard play helped the Ravens trim a 10-point deficit to three with 9:55 left in the second quarter.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Flacco basically alley-ooped a pass from the 7, and Heap outmuscled safety Tyrone Carter for the ball in the rear right corner of the end zone.

Heap, 6 feet 5 and 245 pounds, did the same thing against the Bears, lining up wide and getting a smaller cornerback or safety to shadow him. Flacco said that when an opportunity like that emerges, he and Heap try to take advantage.

"Todd had a couple last week, and he had a couple this week," Flacco said. "He did a great job of going for the ball. I thought we had good matchups. He's out there on those little guys. He did a great job of going up for the ball and making catches."

If the Ravens have any notion about making a run to the playoffs - and extending their stay if they get there - they're going to need similar performances from Heap.

Heap has had eight games in which he has caught three passes or fewer and four contests with fewer than 20 receiving yards.

Too often, Heap has either been asked to help with pass blocking or become invisible.

When productive, the tight end has the ability to stretch the middle of the field for big gains and force opposing defenses to siphon some of their attention away from wide receiver Derrick Mason and running back Ray Rice.

Heap tried to downplay his impact on the passing game.

"I'm just kind of focusing on the plays that are called and how I can make that play work every single time," he said.

Heap acknowledged, however, that the team's loss overshadowed his personal achievements. Specifically, Heap sounded frustrated at the offense's inability to score more than once inside Pittsburgh's 20.

"The offensive coordinator [Cam Cameron] is thinking big picture, and we were moving the ball quite well at times," Heap said. "We just couldn't get it in the end zone when we needed to. And that was the biggest problem that we had. Especially going down there when we had to have a score and then to knock ourselves out of that position, that was frustrating."

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