Ravens Crushed Under Jacksonville Onslaught
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 2, 1998; Page D7
BALTIMORE, Nov. 1 At half-time today, many angry Baltimore Ravens fans left the stadium. There were very frequent and very loud calls from the stands to replace Coach Ted Marchibroda during and after as dreadful an opening half as anyone could recall led the Ravens to a 45-19 AFC Central Division loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars had six touchdowns in the first half and the last four either came directly from or were set up by Ravens' errors. Alvis Whitted scored from 24 yards after blocking a punt. Safety Donovin Darius raced untouched 83 yards after tight end Eric Green lost the ball trying to extend it a few inches on a pass play that already had gotten a first down.
In all, the Ravens lost four fumbles and had an interception. On one series, they had three penalties and allowed quarterback Jim Harbaugh to be sacked. Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell had beautifully thrown touchdown passes of 37 and 78 yards. But he watched in joyous amazement as the offense did not touch the ball during a seven-minute stretch late in the second quarter when his team's 21-point lead swelled to 35.
"Sometimes you have to hit bottom before you come out of it," Marchibroda said after the Ravens (2-6) failed to be competitive for the second week in a row against a Super Bowl-caliber team and extended their losing streak to four games. "I don't think there's any question today we hit bottom." A minute or so later, he added: "If we haven't hit bottom, we're in real trouble."
Marchibroda is in the final year of his contract. He said Friday the Ravens would face the Jaguars with their healthiest and best team of the season. Asked about his future, Marchibroda said: "That's not my decision. We'll wait and see."
Owner Art Modell said before the season he expected significant progress from a team that went 10-21-1 its first two years.
"I have nothing to say at this time," Modell said from his home tonight. He said he planned to draft a statement about team expectations Monday.
Publicly, the players supported Marchibroda.
"It's not about one guy," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "I know in the [fans'] eyes everything is on the head coach when the team is totally losing. [But] we also have offensive coaches, defensive coaches-and we have 52 other players. We have to look at everybody."
Harbaugh mostly was splendid in his first start in five games, completing 27 of 34 passes for 243 yards and short touchdowns to wide receivers Jermaine Lewis, Floyd Turner and rookie Patrick Johnson. With 57 yards, Harbaugh was Baltimore's leading rusher.
"I've never really been in a game like this," Harbaugh said. "We're embarrassed. We made every mistake possible, didn't miss anything. We let our coaches down. We let ourselves down."
The Jaguars (6-2) started righting themselves from a two-game losing streak late in the first quarter after Brunell and Harbaugh matched touchdown passes. On first down from his 22-yard line, Brunell had the Jaguars in a five-receiver set that had running back Fred Taylor matched with cornerback Rod Woodson. Taylor caught Brunell's pass in stride about midfield, then cut left and outraced Woodson to the end zone.
Green lost the ball at the Baltimore 26 when hit by two defenders and the Jaguars soon increased their lead to 21-7 on Taylor's one-yard run. A lost fumble by fullback Roosevelt Potts at the Baltimore 28 ended with his counterpart, Daimon Shelton, bulling in from the two with 9 minutes 33 seconds remaining before halftime.
Then came an even worse sequence for the Ravens. After Johnson dropped a near-certain first-down pass, Whitted broke free from the outside and smothered the ball as it left punter Kyle Richardson's foot. The Jaguar gathered it in and scored easily. The Green fumble Darius ran back for the touchdown that lifted Jacksonville's lead to 42-7 came less than two minutes later-and generated massive booing.
"I put this [defeat] on myself," said Green, making his first appearance since suffering a ruptured air sac in his lung nearly three full games ago. "If I don't do those things, you never know what may have happened."
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company