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Offense Is Stark Raven Bad

NFL / WEEK 7

Pro football: Baltimore fails to score a touchdown for third consecutive game and loses to Washington, 10-3. Billick still stands by Banks as quarterback.

October 16, 2000|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LANDOVER, Md. — Three weeks.

No touchdowns.

The Baltimore Ravens lost Sunday.

Well, no wonder.

Johnny Unitas was at the game--and frankly Baltimore looks as if it could use a quarterback after a 10-3 loss to the Washington Redskins in front of 83,252 at FedEx Field.

Almost halfway through the season, the Ravens have one half of a terrific team: They won their two previous games on field goals alone.

"I don't care how good your defense is, you can't win like that," tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "It will catch up with you. It's caught up with us."

The Redskins pounded away at the NFL's No. 1 rushing defense until the fourth quarter, when Stephen Davis broke through for a 33-yard touchdown run that gave Washington (5-2) its fourth victory in a row after two crisis-inducing losses.

After the game, Raven Coach Brian Billick backed Tony Banks before anyone asked, which ought to tell you something.

"Obviously we've got to score more points. That's your first question. We've got to be better in the red zone," Billick said. "Tony Banks is my starting quarterback. Questions?"

"Why?" was the first one.

"Because he's my starting quarterback and we're a 5-2 team and that's the guy I think gives us the best chance to win right now."

It might also be because Trent Dilfer is the backup. But Billick deserves a bit of the blame for the play call on the game-turning interception Banks threw on first and goal at the one-yard line just before halftime.

That meant kicker Matt Stover, who has scored the Ravens' last 34 points, didn't even get a chance.

Billick said he called for a pass instead of a run with 10 seconds and two timeouts remaining because he was concerned a running play would use up the clock and not leave time for the field-goal attempt.

But Banks took care of that, forcing the ball into the end zone looking for Sharpe--but into the arms of the Redskins' Kevin Mitchell instead.

"I thought I had a little seam," Banks said. "Obviously I didn't."

Billick went after him heatedly when he came off the field.

"It was one of those where he probably should have thrown it away," Billick said. "It was not a smart throw. He knows that."

The Redskins deserve credit for putting together a free-agent defense that is getting better as the season goes on.

Washington held Baltimore to 199 yards, sacked Banks three times--he completed 16 of 27 passes for only 135 yards--and held the Ravens to 38% third-down efficiency (five for 13).

Shawn Barber and Kenard Lang had sacks, and Dan Wilkinson and Dana Stubblefield shared the other.

All that talk about Baltimore's defense? The Redskins heard it--and they know a fragile offense when they see one.

"You see the frustration," Stubblefield said. "Then you just take that nail and just keep hammering and hammering. All those big plays we made, that goal-line play, that was the hammer hittin' the nail."

The Ravens hit their own thumbs with the hammer plenty, committing penalties at crucial times.

Baltimore hasn't scored a touchdown in the last 186 minutes 39 seconds, dating to the fourth quarter of a Sept. 24 victory over Cincinnati.

"I try to forget about it after the game," said tackle Jonathan Ogden, the former UCLA player who played on a sore ankle. "But when you look at it, three weeks straight. No touchdowns. You start thinking, man, we've got to get something going."

Sharpe was more emphatic.

"Tony's struggling right now. That's no secret," Sharpe said. "The only way you bail out a struggling quarterback is if he throws it in your vicinity, come down with it.

"I just told Tony, 'Look, you're going to get all the blame, because you're the quarterback. You have to understand that. But you can't get down about it.'

"Every time he turns on the TV, it's going to be, 'Tony Banks, what can he do to get in the end zone?' Every time he turns on the radio, fans will be saying, 'Tony, . . . you're killing us, you're killing us."'

Banks is feeling it.

"Yeah, I feel like I'm pressing out there," he said. "I threw balls into the dirt today that I never have."

Sharpe nodded.

"It would get the best of them. But you know what, Tony's going to be OK. Look at Tennessee. Their quarterback [Steve McNair] went six games last year without throwing a touchdown pass. No one said anything, because they were winning. We win three out of four when Tony doesn't score a touchdown, I'll take it.

"A lot of teams putting a lot of touchdowns on the board, look at their records. I'll take 5-2. I'm going to be pleased and realize that we can play better. Know that we have to play better."

The Redskins have been there. They also knew that in this Beltway battle--only the second time the nearby teams have met--they were the hunted, just as they are most weeks.

"We knew that from Day 1," Stubblefield said. "We knew that back in training camp, all the hype, the acquisitions we had--Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, blah-blah-blah, [owner Daniel] Snyder, the whole nine yards."

The Ravens? They knew they couldn't keep winning without touchdowns.

"That's a very astute observation," Billick said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

WEEK 7

* ST. LOUIS: 45

* ATLANTA: 29

Marshall Faulk rushed for 208 yards, caught seven passes and made two of the Rams' record-setting four two-point conversions. D7

*

* OAKLAND: 20

* KANSAS CITY: 17

Rookie kicker, who had made only six of 11 field-goal attempts, kicked a 43-yarder with 25 seconds left to lift the Raiders. D8

*

* NEW YORK GIANTS: 19

* DALLAS: 14

Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman had five passes intercepted to tie a club record and Giant running back Ron Dayne rushed for 108 yards. D11

*

* BUFFALO 27

* SAN DIEGO (OT) 24

*

* NEW ORLEANS 24

* CAROLINA 6

*

* PITTSBURGH 15

* CINCINNATI 0

*

* WASHINGTON 10

* BALTIMORE 3

*

* DENVER 44

* CLEVELAND 10

*

* NEW YORK JETS 34

* NEW ENGLAND 17

*

* INDIANAPOLIS 37

* SEATTLE 24

*

* PHILADELPHIA 33

* ARIZONA 14

*

* GREEN BAY 31

* SAN FRANCISCO 28

*

* MINNESOTA 28

* CHICAGO 16

*

COVERAGE D6-11

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