Ravens 27, Giants 17
The satisfaction the Baltimore Ravens could take from ending the preseason with a solid 27-17 victory over the New York Giants on Thursday night was almost overshadowed by concern about the left knee of Pro Bowl left tackle Jonathan Ogden.
Ogden, a St. Albans graduate who is considered the most dominant offensive lineman in the NFL, suffered a second-degree medial collateral ligament sprain in a collision on a running play late in the first quarter. He was helped off the field by two members of the training staff, but later walked to the locker room under his own power.
Leigh Ann Curl, the team's orthopedic surgeon, told a team spokesman that if she had to make a determination now on Ogden's status for the season opener at Cleveland on Sept. 12, she would list him as questionable. She said that she would have a better idea of his condition early next week. Ogden iced his knee but did not have it X-rayed, and his knee was wrapped in a bulky brace after the game.
"I'm feeling all right right now, it's just a sprained MCL, hopefully it responds well and I'll be back next week," Ogden said. "I've had MCL [injuries] before to my right knee, so it just depends. I responded well last time, so we'll just see how it goes. . . .
"One time it took me a week [to recover from an MCL injury], one time four weeks. This doesn't feel too bad, so hopefully next week I'll be out there. That's the plan."
Ogden, 30, was injured with about three minutes remaining in the first quarter. Running back Chester Taylor followed Ogden on a run to the left side. The 6-foot-9, 345-pound tackle fell on his back with his legs in the air, and it appeared that Taylor, and the rest of the pile, fell on Ogden's outstretched left leg.
"It's very scary" to watch a player like Ogden go down, Coach Brian Billick said. "Your heart just sinks, you look out there, and you've got to pray that things are going to be okay. The guys upstairs got a pretty good view, and it wasn't like his foot was planted, but you know what Jonathan Ogden means to this football team."
The Ravens were happy to end the preseason with a 3-1 record and their most complete performance. The defense, as usual, was stifling. Only one touchdown -- Terrell Owens's memorable 81-yard catch and run in Philadelphia's 26-17 win last month -- was scored against the Ravens' starting defense in the preseason.
Against New York, the Ravens' starters gave up one big play -- a 49-yard pass from Kurt Warner to Tim Carter -- that set up a 24-yard field goal by Todd France. Outside of that one play, the Giants managed only 24 yards of total offense in three series against the first-string defense.
Cornerback Chris McAlister, who ended his month-long holdout on Monday, was beaten on the long pass play to Carter. But he came back to make a big play, leaping in front of Warner's pass intended for Amani Toomer, and then tip-toeing down the sideline before cutting back for a 23-yard touchdown. It was the Ravens' third interception return for a touchdown in the preseason.
"I am still trying to find my bearings," McAlister said. "This was my first time in pads. It feels great to be back with this team. I needed this time, though."
Quarterback Kyle Boller had his best performance of the preseason, and he did so against what seemed like constant pressure from defensive end Michael Strahan. He connected with receiver Kevin Johnson on a 34-yard pass play in the first quarter, with Strahan practically on his back.
Boller, who entered the game having completed 55.8 percent of his passes, was 6 for 7 for 84 yards. He left the game after engineering a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive -- a series that included two long passes under pressure, Ogden's injury, and a three-yard touchdown pass to Johnson.
The touchdown pass -- Boller's second of the preseason -- was particularly impressive; the second-year quarterback ran to his right and then slung the ball to Johnson, in between the pylon and cornerback Frank Walker.
Ravens Notes: Newly signed cornerback Deion Sanders attended the game, but did not play. Sanders, once again dressed in all black, greeted the defensive starters as they were introduced before the game, and then spent the rest of the game on the sidelines, cheering and talking with his new teammates. . . .
Randy Hymes started at wide receiver in place of Travis Taylor (groin) and caught four passes for 55 yards.