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 1997 Season Review

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Ravens Section

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  Baltimore Senses Loss Despite Tie

Ravens Helmet By Ken Denlinger
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 17, 1997; Page D6

BALTIMORE, Nov. 16 – On the Memorial Stadium scoreboard late this afternoon, it was the first NFL tie in eight years: Baltimore Ravens 10, Philadelphia Eagles 10, after an overtime period that ended with a Philadelphia field goal fluttering very wide and very short. Most Ravens believe the scoreboard lied.

"It was a loss," defensive end Michael McCrary said, "because our chances for the playoffs now are pretty dim."

Once more in this 4-6-1 season, the Ravens played splendidly, at times. They rushed for 204 yards, with rookie Jay Graham making his first start and getting 154 on 35 carries. They also had a team-record nine quarterback sacks, with McCrary getting three against first-time starter Bobby Hoying, and linebacker Peter Boulware and tackle James Jones two each.

The Ravens also blundered often enough to keep from winning. But the Eagles (4-6-1) also botched a chance to give kicker Chris Boniol something easier than a 40-yarder into a strong wind at game's end. They were penalized five critical yards for an illegal formation while trying to spike the ball with five seconds left.

"I am personally mad at myself because I didn't manage the thing at the end," said Eagles Coach Ray Rhodes.

The Ravens are angry at themselves for several mistakes. On offense, quarterback Vinny Testaverde countered a 29-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jackson in the first quarter with an interception on first down at the Philadelphia 13 just before halftime. Also, the offense failed on a few third-and-short situations and once on fourth down early in overtime.

The Baltimore defense surrendered its only touchdown with 85 seconds left in regulation, when Hoying completed four consecutive passes on a 60-yard drive that ended with Charlie Garner's two-yard touchdown run.

"We blew the opportunities," Ravens Coach Ted Marchibroda said.

Another opportunity came with just under three minutes left in overtime, when Earnest Byner, the right side of the offensive line, and rookie fullback Kenyon Cotton failed to gain a yard on third and one. That left Matt Stover with a 53-yard field goal. He had the wind at his back, but a low kick sailed just right.

"Low kicks tend to go that way," said Stover, who had made 23 of his previous 25 kicks. "I don't think it missed by more than five inches."

Byner was the running back at the time because Graham had suffered a sprained left ankle a few minutes earlier, and Marchibroda had determined that ankle and toe injuries were too serious for Bam Morris to play at all.

Even though they never led by more than seven points, the Ravens seemed in control for almost the entire game. When a sack was necessary, McCrary and his defensive partners produced it. Baltimore's return game was hampered by the absence of Jermaine Lewis, whose sprained ankle kept him sidelined. James Roe was too slow to take advantage of Philadelphia coverage units, ranked last in the league.

The turnaround play for the Eagles on their touchdown drive came on second and two from the Philadelphia 48. Hoying was flushed from the pocket, which forced rookie safety Kim Herring to make quick decision: rush up and try to tackle Hoying or stay in the flat and cover fullback Kevin Turner.

Herring chose to break toward the quarterback and the alert Hoying, making his first start after being third string almost all season, flipped the ball to Turner for a 25-yard gain. Hoying then rifled 13- and 12-yard completions to wideouts Michael Timpson and Irving Fryar to set up Garner's short burst into the end zone.

"I was surprised the way Hoying responded," said Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa. "He just kept fighting back."

Hoying generally was satisfied with his performance, but said: "I probably could have thrown the ball away a number of times. They were making it tough on us with an eight-man front and forcing us to throw. ... It was frustrating to go through all that work and to have a tie."

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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