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THE 1996 NFL

Ravens Stay Grounded, Saints Remain Winless

Interconference: Byner rushes for 149 yards as Baltimore wins, 17-10, by exploiting run defense.

September 30, 1996|From Associated Press

BALTIMORE — Earnest Byner looked at the Ravens' 88-yard rushing average, looked at their opponent and decided this was the week Baltimore would finally get its ground game going.

He made it happen, gaining 149 of the Ravens' 165 rushing yards Sunday as Baltimore defeated New Orleans, 17-10, sending the Saints to their second consecutive 0-5 start.

It was Byner's best game since 1990.

"It's been a long time," Byner said. "It feels good."

Byner carried the Ravens early, and Vinny Testaverde saved them late after New Orleans tied it at 10-10 early in the final quarter. Testaverde drove Baltimore 75 yards in eight plays, getting the touchdown on a six-yard pass to Michael Jackson in the left corner of the end zone.

"It was a designed roll-out to the left, and Michael and I just played sandlot from there," Testaverde said. "There are times we do that."

Testaverde completed 11 of 20 passes for 186 yards and no interceptions.

The Ravens (2-2), playing in front of a sellout crowd, are unbeaten at home but have had to play catch-up in road losses at Pittsburgh and Houston.

"The last two games we ran the ball halfway decent but we didn't have a chance to stay with it," said Byner, whose 24 carries included a 42-yard run, his longest since his rookie season of 1984. "Today we got a lead late in the game and were able to stay with it."

New Orleans, which gave up 214 yards to Arizona's LeShon Johnson last week, knew the Ravens would run--and still the Saints couldn't stop them.

"A smart coach like [Ted] Marchibroda is going to try to establish the running game, see if it works, see if last week was a fluke," Saint cornerback Eric Allen said. "It seems like we're always a call off or a play off."

Saint quarterback Jim Everett completed 23 of 30 passes for 207 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown to Michael Haynes.

"It's frustrating," Everett said. "We're looking for a win any way we can get it. We have to put more than 10 points on the board."

Coach Jim Mora hasn't guided the Saints to a winning record since 1992, and his contract expires at the end of this season. Speculation about Mora's future is widespread, but guard Jim Dombrowski said the players can't listen.

"If you start worrying about the coach's job, you're focusing on the wrong thing. And when you do that, you're not going to perform," he said.

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