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Raiders Seek to Rebound Against Hungry Ravens

September 17, 2006|From the Associated Press

BALTIMORE — During his spectacular career at the University of Maryland, LaMont Jordan often spent his Sundays resting his battered body and watching the Baltimore Ravens tear into opposing running backs.

Jordan will return home this weekend as a member of the Oakland Raiders. Although he's lived in Maryland his entire life and is perceived as a local hero of sorts, Jordan knows he won't receive any preferential treatment from Ray Lewis and the Baltimore defense.

"None of that really matters. Once the opening kickoff comes, the Ravens could care less whether or not I am from that area," Jordan said. "I am a guy who is going to be running the ball and they are coming to knock my head off."

Jordan played at Suitland (Md.) High before becoming the leading rusher in the history of the Maryland football program. The cozy aspect of his trip home will occur well before the Raiders and Ravens clash today.

"I'll be able to see friends, my mom and grandparents. That's the only good thing," Jordan said.

Jordan's Raiders are seeking to bounce back from a season-opening 27-0 home loss against San Diego. Jordan gained only 20 yards in 10 carries, and Oakland managed only nine first downs and 129 yards in offense.

If there's any carryover in the first quarter against Baltimore, the Raiders could be in serious trouble.

"Being from the area from the time the Ravens came there, there is one thing you know about the Ravens and that is defense," Jordan said. "I like to call them sharks, and if you know anything about sharks, they can smell blood a mile away. If the Ravens sense any type of softness, those guys are going to take advantage of you and they are going to beat you up."

That is precisely what the Ravens did in their 27-0 rout of Tampa Bay last week. Baltimore went up 7-0 on a 14-play drive orchestrated by newcomer Steve McNair, and the defense followed with three interceptions to put away the defending AFC South champions.

Are the Raiders really as bad as they looked against San Diego? Are the Ravens really that good? The answer should become clearer on Sunday.

"If we don't match their speed, match their intensity, it's going to be ugly out there," Jordan said. "I wouldn't say our backs are against the wall, but what I can say, when I looked at our schedule before the season started, I said to myself, 'The second game of the season, it's going to tell us who we are as a football team." '

The Ravens are coming off a 6-10 season, so Coach Brian Billick has been preaching this week that one big win doesn't mean they're playoff bound. Still, it was hard to find a lot of flaws in their blowout of the Buccaneers.

McNair threw a touchdown pass and was not intercepted. Jamal Lewis gained 78 yards on 18 carries and capped the impressive opening drive with a touchdown run.

The defense, led by an inspired Ray Lewis, limited Tampa Bay to eight first downs and 142 yards. Lewis earned NFL defensive player of the week honors after making 10 tackles, including seven solos.

Coming off a performance like that, Ray Lewis and the Ravens could be forgiven for expecting to dominate the stagnant Oakland offense. But Baltimore's standout linebacker knows better than to count the Raiders out.

"That's like a boxer watching somebody getting knocked out in the first round, and then they come in and take their opponent lightly and they get knocked out," Ray Lewis said. "We're not going to do that. We know the capability of the Oakland Raiders. Any time you have Randy Moss on the other side of the ball, you're going to have problems. You better be aware where he is."

Moss had four catches for 47 yards last week. That was five fewer touches than Oakland punter Shane Lechler.

Art Shell was hired as Oakland's coach to bring back some swagger with the Raiders, but Oakland stumbled mightily against San Diego.

"There is too much talent here to play like we played. It was mind-boggling to me that we played that way," Shell said.

It sure wasn't like the Raiders of old.

"We need to bring that image back," Jordan said. "What we showed out there last week was nothing Silver and Black. There was nothing Raiders out of it."

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