- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2004

PHILADELPHIA — The Baltimore Ravens insisted all week that their focus was on the Philadelphia Eagles and not star wide receiver Terrell Owens, but TO was impossible to ignore yesterday.

Owens scored the Eagles’ only touchdown of the game on a fourth-quarter slant to lead Philadelphia to a hard-fought 15-10 victory over the Ravens before 67,715 at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles (7-0) are the NFL’s only remaining undefeated team. The Ravens are 4-3.

Owens verbally challenged the Ravens all week and then delivered on game day. But it was what Owens did once he got into the end zone that was the ultimate insult to Baltimore.

As soon as he scored his ninth touchdown of the season, Owens broke into a little dance that somewhat resembled Deion Sanders’ end zone routine. Then, Owens reached down and ripped out a chunk of end zone grass and proceeded to impersonate Ray Lewis’ introduction dance.

Needless to say, Lewis was not impressed.

“If you’re going to play a football game, play a football game, but don’t be a coward and wait until you make one play to do something. Just play football, it doesn’t mean anything,” Lewis said.

Owens said he diligently studied tape on Lewis’ dance moves and was able to perform a near-flawless duplication when he gave his undefeated team a 15-3 lead with just more than nine minutes remaining.

“I saw him when he did it at the Super Bowl,” Owens said. “Every time they have intros, he is a highlight film just like I’m a highlight film. The camera is going to follow him and I’ve seen it time and time again on ESPN. I was just trying to have a little fun.”

Owens, who caught a game-high eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown, basically voided a trade to the Ravens from his former team, the San Francisco 49ers, in the offseason before being dealt to the Eagles. He then started a war of words with Baltimore with his derogatory comments about Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and Lewis in his recently released book “Catch This! Going Deep with the NFL’s Sharpest Weapon.”

The 6-foot-3 Owens did make the big play when it counted yesterday. On third-and-10, with the Eagles leading 9-3, Owens lined up right at the Ravens’ 11 and cut over the middle behind the linebackers. Quarterback Donovan McNabb hit his favorite target in stride and Owens did the rest, breaking tackles from cornerback Gary Baxter and safety Ed Reed before abruptly changing direction and running untouched to the end zone’s right pylon.

“That was improvising on his part,” McNabb said. “They played man. They played tight man and that was excellent coverage by Baxter. I put it in a position where he could catch it and I actually thought he was going down at that time. He shed from the tackle and just accelerated to the corner.”

The Eagles are off to their best start in franchise history and are the only undefeated team left in the league after the Pittsburgh Steelers soundly defeated the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots 34-20 yesterday.

Owens’ touchdown was set up by a Baltimore turnover. Driving early in the fourth quarter at the Philadelphia 39, Ravens running back Chester Taylor fumbled after being hit by Eagles safety Brian Dawkins. Defensive tackle Hollis Thomas recovered at the Eagles 35. McNabb then drove the Eagles 65 yards in 3:47 to take a 12-point lead with 9:12 left.

Taylor, who was filling in for suspended star back Jamal Lewis, refused to talk to reporters after the game. He finished with 78 yards on 18 carries.

“Any time you turn the ball over, it’s going to impact the game, particularly against an outstanding team like Philadelphia,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

The Ravens’ beleaguered offense came to life after Owens’ touchdown. Quarterback Kyle Boller found backup tight end Daniel Wilcox on a 7-yard touchdown pass to cut the Eagles’ lead to 15-10 with 5:52 left.

Boller, who completed 24 of 38 passes for 223 yards, had two late chances to direct a game-winning drive. The Ravens took over at their 19 with 4:01 left but the drive stalled at their 38 and the Ravens punted with 2:11 left.

After the Eagles went three-and-out, the Ravens got the ball back at their 29 with 1:34 left. On fourth-and-10 at the Eagles 48, receiver Travis Taylor nearly made a spectacular one-handed diving grab over the middle but the ball bounced out when he brought it into his body.

The Ravens’ offense showed encouraging signs, outgaining the Eagles 327-298. But they were left with a loss and Owens’ mocking dance.

“His dance made me sick,” Ravens defensive end Anthony Weaver said. “But that is karma, it will all come back on him. I do have one thing to say about the dance, and that is that I would not want to mess with Ray Lewis.”

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