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 1997 Season Review

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  Abdul-Jabbar, Dolphins Run Through Baltimore

Ravens Helmet By Ken Denlinger
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 20, 1997; Page D1

BALTIMORE, Oct. 19 — The Baltimore Ravens had an extra week of preparation and were as close to full health as a team ever gets today. Yet they were embarrassed, 24-13, by the Miami Dolphins — and Coach Ted Marchibroda admitted after the Ravens’ third consecutive loss: "I don’t know if we’ve hit rock bottom yet."

The Ravens (3-4) turned the ball over three times on offense and the defense was constantly blown off the ball during a pancake-flat stretch that left them behind by 18 points at halftime. Later, they couldn’t even score a meaningless touchdown on four cracks from the Miami 2-yard line in the final seconds.

They could, however, figure out the main trouble.

"Miami’s a passing team," said defensive end Michael McCrary, "and they ran the ball on us."

Indeed. The Dolphins (5-2) came into the game with the worst running attack in the NFL — and left with running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar averaging almost five yards on 22 carries and scoring all three touchdowns.

Testaverde Fumbles
AP Photo
The crowd of 64,354 at Memorial Stadium witnessed several familiar themes: Bam Morris running the ball too little (13 carries for 44 yards) and quarterback Vinny Testaverde (pictured) throwing it too often (47 times, with 22 completions producing 331 yards and a 34-yard touchdown to wideout Derrick Alexander).

"If we have any pride," Testaverde said, "we’ll bounce back."

This was a rare Miami game that did not include quarterback Dan Marino as the focal point. But he did complete 19 of 27 passes and hit wide receiver O.J. McDuffie with lots of third-down plays that so frustrated the Ravens.

"That’s my job, usually," said McDuffie after a seven-catch day. "Today, it turned out well."

The Dolphins raced to a 21-3 halftime lead on a terrific blend of running and passing — and a rare fumble by Morris made the second touchdown an easy one.

The Ravens had the first surge. After a 16-yard punt return by Jermaine Lewis, they moved from their 49-yard line to the Miami 15 on four runs by Morris and a seven-yard Testaverde pass to Alexander.

But Dolphins defensive end Trace Armstrong blew by Baltimore tackle Orlando Brown and threw Morris for a four-yard loss on second down, a pass to Morris went incomplete and Matt Stover kicked a 38-yard field goal. It was his ninth straight.

Miami immediately dashed back, going 80 yards on 10 plays and a 25-yard penalty on defensive tackle Tony Siragusa for hitting Marino near the knees after an incompletion. Abdul-Jabbar gained 45 yards on six carries during the drive and burst five yards up the middle for the touchdown that provided a 7-3 lead.

Two plays later, Morris seemed to lose control of the ball even before Miami defensive tackle Daryl Gardner hit him and Armstrong recovered at the Ravens 34.

Marino hit tight end Troy Drayton for 23 yards on first down. Abdul-Jabbar’s second straight carry, again from the 5, resulted in the touchdown. The Dolphins blocked the aggressive McCrary out of the play and no Raven was able to fill the hole.

With three seconds left in the first quarter, Alexander was hit hard by cornerback Terrell Buckley and linebacker Anthony Harris near the right sideline after a five-yard reception. The ball popped almost straight in the air — and linebacker Derrick Rodgers gathered it in at the Baltimore 41 after it bounced off his chest.

The Ravens held. But the offense still could not muster anything significant — and the Dolphins used fine field position to gain the 21-3 advantage with 4:47 left before halftime.

Karim Abdul-Jabbar Catches a Pass
AP Photo
McDuffie played superbly in the first half — and he gained 18 yards on a Marino pass on third and 17 to keep the chains moving. On third-and-three from the 6, Abdul-Jabbar (at right in photo) took a deep handoff and slipped through a hole at the line of scrimmage, by well-blocked free safety Rondell Jones and into the end zone.

Baltimore middle linebacker Ray Lewis caused an Abdul-Jabbar fumble on the first series of the second half — and Testaverde led the offense 64 yards to the Miami 5.

To a barrage of boos, Marchibroda ordered a field goal on fourth and two and Stover delivered from the 13.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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