- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 17, 2002

OWINGS MILLS, Md. Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is an emotional guy who has been known to shed a few tears on the sideline during the course of games.
And those weren't tears of joy.
"He better not let us see him dropping tears, because then we're really going to get after him," Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ed Hartwell said. "Anytime we can get a lick on Ricky Williams, we're going to deliver a blow and make that emotional side come out of him."
Controlling Williams, who is third in the AFC in rushing with 811 yards, is the biggest key for the Ravens (4-5) going into today's game against the Dolphins (5-4) at Pro Player Stadium.
This is a big game for the Ravens. A victory would put the rebuilding team firmly in the AFC playoff mix with winnable games against Cincinnati, Houston and Cleveland left.
But today's outcome probably will depend on how well the Ravens stop the run and Williams. The sturdy 5-foot-10, 228-pounder, who has four 100-yard games this season, is just one 100-yard rushing game shy of tying the Dolphins record for most in a season set by Delvin Williams in 1978.
With 189 more yards, Williams will become just the sixth Dolphin to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. Miami is 4-0 this season when Ricky Williams rushes for 100 yards or more in a game.
"There are not too many guys that are that big and powerful and that fast, too," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He can turn that corner, and all of a sudden, he's by you. It's that rare combination of both size and speed."
The reeling Dolphins have lost three straight with starting quarterback Jay Fiedler sidelined by a broken thumb on his throwing hand. Ray Lucas, Fiedler's backup, has played poorly filling in.
Lucas, a five-year journeyman from Rutgers, has completed 54 of 100 passes for 590 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions and has a quarterback rating of just 53.3.
Coach Dave Wannstedt is the first to admit Lucas is not getting the job done, but his only option is to use Washington Redskins castoff Sage Rosenfels.
"We've really gotten out of sync on offense," Wannstedt said. "After the Denver win, we were 5-1 and we lose Fiedler and we lose [wide receiver] Oronde Gadsden. We thought we could stay with the same plan with Ray Lucas because he played so well in the preseason. We turned the ball over six times losing to Buffalo. We've scored one touchdown a game for the last three games, and that won't win in this league."
Knowing that the Dolphins are struggling in the passing department, the Ravens may put eight men in the box to stop Williams and dare Lucas to beat them.
Lucas does have mobility in the pocket, which is his best asset. He has run 18 times for 75 yards (4.2 average) and a touchdown in three starts.
"We've played the best scrambler in the league in [Atlanta Falcons quarterback] Michael Vick," Hartwell said. "We shut him down. We know how to play the scramble. So we're not really too worried about that. If [Lucas] does scramble and we get to him, we just have to make him pay for it."
The Ravens' defense will again be missing key starters for this game. Cornerback Chris McAlister (ankle) and defensive end Michael McCrary (knee) will not play. Ray Lewis, the five-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker, was upgraded earlier in the week from doubtful to questionable with a partially dislocated left shoulder. Lewis has missed the last five games, and his availability will be a game-time decision.
Offensively, the Ravens will have their hands full. The Dolphins have one of the league's best run defenses with five Pro Bowl performers Jason Taylor, Tim Bowens, Zach Thomas, Sam Madison, and Brock Marion on that side of the ball. Many NFL observers feel Madison and Patrick Surtain form the best pair of cornerbacks in the league.
Last year in an AFC wild card game, the Ravens waxed the Dolphins 20-3 in Miami when they ran for 226 yards. Many of those Baltimore players are gone after an offseason salary cap purge, but the Dolphins are not overlooking the surprising Ravens.


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