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Long-Awaited Touchdown Puts Ravens in a Zone

November 06, 2000|From Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Brandon Stokley went in motion, caught his first pass of the season, turned upfield and saw an amazing thing.

The end zone--that place the Baltimore Ravens hadn't reached in six weeks--was only a few strides and one joyous lunge away.

Stokley's 14-yard touchdown catch ended one of the longest offensive slumps in modern NFL history and sparked the Ravens to a 27-7 victory Sunday over the Cincinnati Bengals.

"That's a beaut!" said Raven Coach Brian Billick. "It allows me to actually sleep one night this week. When you go through struggles like this, yeah, it weighs on you."

Finally reaching the end zone was such a relief that the Ravens (6-4) did it again and again.

Trent Dilfer threw two touchdown passes to tight end Shannon Sharpe, taking advantage of the team that had given up the Ravens' last touchdown.

Since a 37-0 win over the Bengals (2-7) on Sept. 24, the Ravens had gone five games without reaching the end zone. The drought grew to 21 quarters--matching the 1991 Colts for the longest since the 1970 NFL merger--before Dilfer and Stokley ended it early in the second quarter with a little help from the defense.

Sam Adams burst into the backfield and hit Cincinnati quarterback Akili Smith as he handed off, forcing a fumble deep in Bengal territory. The Ravens called "H Angle Return," a play that made Stokley an unlikely streak-buster.

The second-year receiver had been either inactive or on the sideline all season.

"I told Brandon when we practiced that play during the week, 'Watch, this will be the play that scores,' " Billick said.

After he lunged just inside the pylon, Stokley popped up and threw back his head in jubilation.

"I was just thrilled to get the monkey off our backs," Stokley said.

Dilfer threw touchdown passes of 18 and 19 yards to Sharpe for a 24-0 halftime lead.

"This is a team we should dominate and in the first half, we dominated them," Sharpe said.

The victory moved the Ravens into second place in the AFC Central, a half-game ahead of Pittsburgh.

The Bengals' Corey Dillon, who had gained 415 yards over the last two games, was held to 23 yards.

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