- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

OWINGS MILLS, Md. The Baltimore Ravens' bye week couldn't have come at a more opportune time.
The banged-up Super Bowl champions get a week to heal key injuries and should have Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sam Adams (knee), defensive end Rob Burnett (calf), running back Terry Allen (hand) and veteran nickel back James Trapp (groin) available for the key divisional showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at PSINet Stadium on Dec. 16.
With a full week's rest Ravens coach Brian Billick has given his team off until Sunday the Ravens (8-4) should be ready for the playoff run with four games remaining, three of which are at home.
"We're two weeks away, so I have to qualify everything and I'm certainly not medically qualified to make anything definitive," Billick said of his team's injuries. "Right now, after visiting with [Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf] and the doctors, we're very confident that we should be pretty much at full force."
The Ravens are in the driver's seat for the top AFC wild-card spot and could win the division if they beat the Steelers (9-2) again. The Ravens escaped with a 13-10 win at Pittsburgh on Nov. 5 when Steelers kicker Kris Brown missed four field goals.
How the Ravens are 8-4 is the interesting part. The champs are minus-11 in the take-away/give-away department. Statistically, the Ravens should not have an 8-4 record with 31 turnovers 17 interceptions and 14 fumbles.
"Unbelievable. From a conventional standpoint, you look at [the turnover ratio] and go, 'No way,'" Billick said. "But we've been able to overcome it, which is amazing to me. I think one thing that it does belie is a certain level of offensive production. If fate were to have it where [turnovers] didn't happen and say we were to get those scores, who knows where we would be right now and what the [turnover] total would look like."
Luck and good fortune have a lot to do with the Ravens' record. Each of their last five victories has been via a fourth-quarter comeback. Baltimore has outscored its opponents 92-42 in the fourth quarter.
It took a goal-line stand on the final play to preserve a 16-10 win over the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 12. It took quarterback Elvis Grbac's best Joe Montana impersonation to execute a come-from-behind, game-winning drive to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-21 on Shannon Sharpe's 3-yard touchdown reception in the final seconds.
It took Travis Taylor's 3-yard TD pass from Grbac with 8:51 remaining to beat the Denver Broncos 20-13 on Sept. 30. It took two fourth-quarter scoring drives engineered by backup quarterback Randall Cunningham to nip the Jaguars 18-17 on wide receiver Qadry Ismail's 2-yard TD pass with 4:07 remaining. Add Brown's charity misses and the Ravens' season has been one wild, crazy ride.
"What's the old saying, 'The better I am, the luckier I get,'" said Billick, who is undefeated (8-0) as Ravens coach in December. "I think that's part of it this far into the season. It may be a little bit morbid to think of it this way, but if nothing else, we're learning to deal with adversity. We've faced it about as many different ways as you can, so when it happens whether it's an interception for a touchdown or a fumble on the goal line it's, 'OK, we've done that before and we've won, so lets go back to work.'"
Work won't be on the players' mind this week. With a rash of incidents involving NFL players breaking the law, Billick has advised his players not to put themselves in precarious situations during the off week, although no restrictions are being placed on the players.
"Not to lay my moral perspective on them, but watch out for these things," Billick said. "Our players are in a predatory environment. This sounds very paranoid, but there are people out there that have specific designs on wanting to put you in a situation where they can compromise you and extort whatever it is they want to extort from you financially, emotionally or whatever it is. We've not had a problem with these byes, and I wouldn't anticipate one."

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