Marchibroda Exits Baltimore With Win
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 28, 1998; Page D1
BALTIMORE, Dec. 27 Ted Marchibroda knew today would be his last game as Baltimore Ravens coach, and when it ended with a 19-10 victory over the Detroit Lions he was close to tears and anxious to talk about how he wanted to be remembered.
"When [owner Art Modell] asked me what my best asset was," he said, recalling an interview before being hired three years ago, "I told him [I'd] get the guys to play for me. . . . And as I leave here, the thing I can say is they played. They played. . . . I can walk the streets of Baltimore with my head held high."
The Ravens jumped on the Lions early, gaining a 16-0 lead midway through the first half on a safety, a one-handed grab of an 11-yard touchdown pass by fullback Roosevelt Potts and a one-yard scoring run by Priest Holmes, whose 132 yards rushing pushed him over 1,000 for the season.
With the defense holding Barry Sanders to 41 yards on 19 carries and staying steady after the Lions (5-11) pulled to 16-10 early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens produced the sort of team-wide good work not seen often enough this season.
Modell's preseason expectations of the playoffs seemed overly ambitious. But the 6-10 record the Ravens ended up with not only was less than what a team with five Pro Bowl players and an alternate probably ought to produce, it also was worse than last season's 6-9-1 performance. That left Marchibroda's overall mark at 16-31-1.
Modell will be at the team's training complex in Owings Mills on Monday, a team official said, and an announcement that Marchibroda would not be rehired was expected. Speculation was that the Ravens would be among the teams pursuing Mike Holmgren, if he exercises an escape clause in his contract with the Green Bay Packers, and former San Francisco coach George Siefert.
Before looking ahead, the Ravens could satisfy themselves with an impressive turnaround from a lackluster effort the previous week against the Chicago Bears.
"Some of us got together and said, 'Let's send him out with a win,'" said 10-year veteran safety Stevon Moore. "A lot of guys aren't going to be here, because there's going to be a big change, so as players we want to go out winners also."
Quarterback Jim Harbaugh, 35, also is among those closely tied to Marchibroda and concerned about his future.
"The ax swings," he said. "You hope you're below it, below that level. I don't know. Head coach. Starting quarterback. Maybe [I'm] a little too high-profile at this point."
On the Ravens' first play from scrimmage today, Harbaugh was down on the field in pain after being hit and falling on his right elbow. That could have been disastrous because the usual backup quarterback, Eric Zeier, had hurt his foot during warmups and was relegated to the third spot.
Into the game trotted Wally Richardson, the third-string quarterback the past two seasons, whom Marchibroda has rarely trusted even in preseason games. Richardson handed the ball to Holmes three times, and threw a one-yard completion to tight end Brian Kinchen and an incompletion in two series before Harbaugh returned.
By that time, the Ravens had a 2-0 lead thanks to a holding penalty against left tackle Ray Roberts on linebacker Peter Boulware in the end zone. All Harbaugh had to do for the Ravens to make it 9-0 was hand the ball to Holmes for a one-yard dive.
That had been made possible by Donny Brady downing a punt at the Detroit 4, and defensive tackle Lional Dalton causing a fumble by Sanders that 320-pound Tony Siragusa fell on at the 2.
The Lions cut the lead to six points with 13 minutes 25 seconds left. But they could not gain a first down in two remaining possessions.
Holmes, the third-team tailback until the season's fourth game, said of his rushing milestone: "The supernatural became natural. The unseen became seen. Here I am, a 1,000-yard back. That's wonderful."
It was not a wonderful day for Marchibroda, but he praised the players in brief remarks immediately after the game and wished them well.
"Short and simple," Siragusa said. "He's been a straight shooter with us. People in this league often aren't with players."
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