- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2001

RAVENS 17, BEARS 6

BALTIMORE The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens proved they don't need much, just Elvis and a dominating defense.
The Ravens' season opener yesterday at PSINet Stadium may have been a blueprint of how the Ravens plan to play this season without any appearance of a running game. Baltimore will ride the strong arm of quarterback Elvis Grbac and hope its defense continues to crush opponents.
It seemed to work against the Chicago Bears.
Grbac was sensational, completing 24 of 30 passes for 262 yards and one touchdown. The Ravens defense allowed just two harmless field goals as they opened their sixth season in Baltimore with a 17-6 victory over the Bears before a sellout crowd of 69,365.
However, the offense lacked balance as it rushed for only 54 yards on 30 carries. With a dominating defense that doesn't allow touchdowns, the Ravens may be able to beat mediocre opponents with those meager rushing numbers, but Grbac and the rest of the offense know they have to improve the ground game.
"Any time that you get a win under your belt, you'll take it any which way," Grbac said. "Obviously, we've got a lot of room for improvement on the offensive side of the ball."
But not in the passing department.
Grbac completed passes to nine different receivers and finished with a 114.2 quarterback rating. Wide receiver Qadry Ismail caught six passes for 88 yards. Rookie tight end Todd Heap caught five passes for 57 yards, including a key second-and-4 at their 19 that went for 24 yards on the go-ahead scoring drive. The Bears double-teamed tight end Shannon Sharpe which opened up Heap. Sharpe caught four passes for 34 yards.
"He's the real deal," Sharpe said of his quarterback. "I'm thoroughly impressed with the way he played. That's as good a quarterback performance that I've been around in 12 years and we needed every completion we got."
With the Ravens trailing 6-3 early in the third quarter, Grbac engineered an 11-play, 87-yard scoring drive. Grbac used a play-action fake to fullback Sam Gash into the line and then found Gash all alone in the right flat for a 6-yard scoring pass to make it 10-6 with 1:48 left in the period. The Ravens never trailed again.
The Bears put the Ravens defense on its heels for most of the first half as Baltimore had trouble running the ball. The Bears held a 21:36 to 8:24 advantage in time of possession in the first half.
The Bears maintained possession by dumping short passes wide and hitting quick slants. Chicago also used a no-huddle offense and quarterback Shane Matthews completed 16 of 23 passes for 116 yards in the half. The Bears had only a 20-yard Paul Edinger field goal to show for all of Matthews' effort.
Bears running back James Allen, the last man to rush for more than 100 yards against the Ravens three years ago, was limited to 43 yards on 21 carries. It was the 38th consecutive game that the Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher and the sixth time in the last 10 games the defense did not permit a touchdown.
"Our philosophy is that if they don't score, they don't win," said Ravens four-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis, whose fourth-quarter interception set up a Terry Allen 1-yard touchdown run. "We'll give up a field goal here and there. They were running out of bounds when they were catching the ball. That won't beat 50 percent of the teams in the NFL."
The Ravens defense, led by linebackers Peter Boulware (10 tackles, two sacks), Jamie Sharper (12 tackles) and Lewis, gave up just 183 of total offense.
Ravens kicker Matt Stover converted a 37-yard field goal with two seconds left before halftime that tied the game 3-3.
"They got a lot of first downs… . but the game was still tied [at halftime]," Ravens safety Rod Woodson said. "In the second half, we played the way we're capable of playing. The first half we didn't. It seemed like we were getting the kinks out in the first half and in the second half the kinks were out. It seemed like we were back to our old days of making guys not want to catch the football."


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