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      Ravens' Comeback Runs Colts Back Out of Town

    Ravens Logo By Ken Denlinger
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, November 30, 1998; Page D1

    BALTIMORE, Nov. 29 – Eventually, the Baltimore Ravens won what the town regarded as a sort of football holy war against the Indianapolis Colts today. And they did it in a way their fans hardly expected, by scoring more points in the second half than they had the entire month of October to trigger a 38-31 comeback victory.

    "I did a lot of praying this week, trusted God for an impossible blessing," said the major catalyst, quarterback Jim Harbaugh. "Us putting 38 points on the board – you know that came from above."

    For great stretches, much of the crowd of 68,898 didn't seem happy with either team, the Colts who jilted them 14 years ago or the Ravens who revived them three years ago. That's because quarterback Peyton Manning and running back Marshall Faulk made like John Unitas and Lenny Moore and lifted the Colts to a 24-10 lead late in the first half and to a 10-point advantage after the third period.

    But Harbaugh and tailback Priest Holmes led a 25-point second half and 17-0 run in the fourth quarter as the Ravens (5-7) pulled into the lead for the first time midway through the final period and won for the third time in their past four games. The Ravens had scored a total of 24 points while losing their three October games. Their 17 fourth-quarter points were more than they had scored in each of seven other games.

    Backup wide receivers James Roe and Floyd Turner each had a touchdown catch for the Ravens. Roe played the entire game for Michael Jackson, who sprained his left foot last Sunday; Turner was featured after Jermaine Lewis left today's game with a sprained right ankle midway through the third quarter.

    Lewis, the team's most productive offensive player, was on crutches and had his foot in a cast. A team spokesman said Lewis will not play next Sunday against the Tennessee Oilers in Nashville.

    A Baltimore defense that had so angered the fans held the Colts (2-10) to seven points after halftime and saved the game when backup safety Ralph Staten intercepted a deflected pass in the final 65 seconds and cornerback DeRon Jenkins covered the ball when Staten lost it during the return.

    Amid a mix of relief and exhilaration, Harbaugh ran out the clock – and immediately did something that could have not been more appropriate if he'd had time to think about it. He saw the Baltimore Colt revered above all, Unitas, standing near the Ravens' bench about 50 yards away, jogged over and gave him the ball.

    "He was a hero of mine," Harbaugh said. "I thought he might appreciate it."

    No one anticipated so much offense. The Colts had 339 yards in the first half. Faulk ripped through a usually strong run defense for 192 yards on 17 carries and rookie Manning passed for 357 yards and three touchdowns, most of them after standout wide receiver Marvin Harrison separated his right shoulder.

    Harbaugh, who completed 8 of 12 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown in the second half, was one of several former Indianapolis Colts who played well. Another was Turner, who had a 22-yard touchdown catch, and fullback Roosevelt Potts, whose blocking helped Holmes average 4.7 yards on 22 carries (for 103 yards) and put the Ravens into the lead for good, 35-31, on a 36-yard dash up the middle with 13 minutes 7 seconds left.

    The Ravens' special teams have been troublesome much of the season, but helped kickoff returner Corey Harris gain 193 yards. Matt Stover had three long field goals, including a 47-yarder with 2:49 left. Also significant, the Ravens had just one penalty.

    The momentum swings were huge, with the Colts leading by 17-3 at the end of the first quarter and by 24-10 with 41 seconds left before the half. Manning made nearly every read and even the most difficult throws.

    Baltimore surged back right away in the second half, but still trailed, 31-21, when rookie wide receiver Jerome Pathon beat Jenkins in the left side of the end zone for a five-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.

    But Harbaugh followed Harris's 47-yard kickoff return to near midfield with a drive that ended with a 22-yard pass that Turner caught over his shoulder in the deep right corner of the end zone. A three-and-out by the defense and a rare poor punt by Chris Gardocki gave the Ravens the ball near midfield once more – and Holmes soon followed center Wally Williams on a burst up the middle for the 36-yard run that lifted them into the lead for good.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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