- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2002

BALTIMORE Just give Jamal Lewis the ball.
The Baltimore Ravens had a fourth-and-1 at the Tennessee Titans 35 in the third quarter yesterday, clinging to a 10-6 lead.
Instead of giving Lewis, the team's unquestioned workhorse, a chance to run for what would seem a likely first down, the Ravens chose to throw.
The pass was intercepted by Titans safety Lance Schulters. Lewis grabbed Schulters a few yards out of bounds on the Ravens sideline and slung him to the ground.
Lewis was flagged for a personal foul. The 235-pound Lewis said later he treated Schulters like a ragdoll because he was frustrated that his coaches didn't call his number in a critical situation.
"I can't lie. I felt better after the fact, and I think that [penalty] picked up the tempo," Lewis said.
Lewis, who sat out all of last season because of a torn knee ligament, apparently woke up his coaching staff and affected their playing calling. In the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh went almost exclusively to Lewis.
The third-year back out of Tennessee gained 95 yards on 17 carries for the game and now has 923 yards on the season. It appears likely he'll get his second 1,000-yard season.
After the game, Lewis said he wasn't too thrilled about the play-calling.
"This is how I am. I give it a time to work, and I give it what it's going to be. I just roll with the punches until I can't take it no more," Lewis said. "I can't take it any more because I know what I'm capable of, and I know what I can do. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses.
"That's when I said, 'If nothing else is working, I'll take on the load.' That's cool with me. I'm ready. Coming off a season-ending injury from last year, I'm strong and I'm ready to roll."
Whose fumble is it?
A costly fourth-quarter fumble by Jamal Lewis prevented the Ravens from icing the game. Leading 13-9, Lewis fumbled at the Titans 11, and linebacker Frank Chamberlin recovered. Lewis' fumble eventually led to a 21-yard field goal by Joe Nedney that made the score 13-12. Luckily for the Ravens, the turnover didn't lead to a go-ahead touchdown.
After the game, Ravens coach Brian Billick said Lewis was not at fault, but he wouldn't elaborate. Replays showed Lewis just dropped the ball as he tried to run off right tackle.
"Not Jamal's fault. That wasn't Jamal's fault. I'll leave it at that," Billick said.
Lewis said he didn't get the exchange with quarterback Jeff Blake, especially since the play that was called was a pass.
"I'm glad Brian has my back," Lewis said.
Don't question the offense
Billick was on the defensive after a pitiful offensive showing that produced 199 yards and no touchdowns. Billick, who won his 40th career game yesterday without his offense scoring a touchdown, warned the media not to question his team's offensive execution.
"One of you is going to make a mistake and ask me about execution. Don't do that, don't do that to yourself," Billick said. "I'll take your questions, but don't be the dumb son-of-a-gun to ask me about execution today."
Billick developed a reputation as one of the game's brightest offensive coaches as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator (1993-98). But he has yet to light up anything offensively in his four seasons as the Ravens' coach. The Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV on the strength of their record-setting defense.
The Ravens have the 31st-ranked offense in the 32-team league.
"I remember my rookie year, we were ranked third in the league in offense and we went 4-12," Pro Bowl left tackle Jonathan Ogden said.


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