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This Time, Ravens Don't Unravel

September 08, 1997|From Associated Press

BALTIMORE — For the first time in eight months, the Baltimore Ravens celebrated a victory. The way it happened made it even sweeter.

Same old Ravens? Evidently not.

Vinny Testaverde threw a touchdown pass to Eric Green with 9:36 left and the Ravens avoided their usual late collapse Sunday in a 23-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Baltimore hadn't won since Dec. 1, losing the final three games of the 1996 season and going 0-4 in the exhibition season before blowing a fourth-quarter lead in a season-opening loss to Jacksonville.

After that game, Baltimore Coach Ted Marchibroda insisted this year's Raven team should not be confused with the one that last season lost nine of its final 11 games after holding a second-half lead.

Sunday, the Ravens proved him right. Baltimore (1-1) outscored Cincinnati, 20-0, in the second half and made all the big plays in the fourth quarter.

"We had a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter. The offense moved the ball and controlled the game in the fourth quarter," Marchibroda said. "That's the way we've been losing some of these. This time we were able to win. And it's a good one."

A five-yard touchdown run by rookie Jay Graham enabled Baltimore to take a 13-10 lead into the fourth quarter, a bad sign for a team known for its late letdowns.

This time, though, the Ravens actually pulled away from the Bengals (1-1), who rallied from 18 points down to defeated Baltimore last season and did the same thing last week against Arizona.

But not this time.

After the Ravens forced Cincinnati to punt with 14:11 left, Testaverde directed a 96-yard drive that ended with his 18-yard touchdown pass to Green.

Rondell Jones then blocked a 46-yard field goal attempt by Cincinnati's Doug Pelfrey--his third miss of the game--and the Ravens moved 41 yards before Matt Stover kicked his third field goal, with 3:45 remaining, to make it 23-10.

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