- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2002

BALTIMORE With a bye week to ponder their sluggish start, a different Baltimore Ravens team showed up last night and made a strong statement on a national stage.

A wild, wacky and wonderful second quarter delivered the Ravens their first win of the season, 34-23 over the powerful Denver Broncos before 69,538 at Ravens Stadium.

"Everything we do with this young team is a learning experience," said Baltimore coach Brian Billick. "Tonight it was learning to cope with the national spotlight."

Here's what the second-largest crowd in Ravens history witnessed during the pivotal second quarter:

•Baltimore returner Chris McAlister executed the longest play in NFL history when he returned a missed Jason Elam field goal 108 yards for a touchdown after time expired in the first half.

•Ravens tight end Todd Heap established a career-high with five receptions for 84 yards (an average of 16.8) and two touchdowns.

•Baltimore rookie safety Ed Reed had the first punt block in team history at 12:22 of the second quarter.

•On the Ravens' second possession of the quarter, the Broncos' defense committed five penalties for 51 yards the most penalties on a drive in the NFL this season.

•Broncos Pro Bowl cornerback Deltha O'Neal was ejected for pushing head linesman Tom Stabile while arguing a pass interference penalty with 5:09 left before halftime.

•The Ravens scored a team-record 31 points in the quarter.

Maybe the Ravens (1-2) are made for prime time. McAlister's return was the exclamation point of the period. Leading 24-3, Elam's kick as time expired in the third quarter fell short. McAlister caught the ball on the fly in the end zone and hesitated whether to bring the kick out of the end zone.

Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis motioned for McAlister to bring the ball out and then cleared the way with a devastating block on Broncos (3-1) reserve linebacker Keith Burns. McAlister went untouched down the left sideline that gave the Ravens an insurmountable 31-3 lead.

"That's the way we practice it," McAlister said. "I watched and hung in the end zone and let my guys set up the wall. I got a hell of a block from Ray and we went with the wall. All I saw was purple jerseys and green until I hit the end zone."

The Ravens' season-long offensive futility ended last night. On the second play of the second period, Heap snagged a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Redman on third-and-1 deep in Broncos territory that gave the Ravens a 7-3 lead.

The Ravens took over at the Denver 13 after Reed's blocked punt. Four plays later, Ravens tailback Jamal Lewis scored on a two-yard touchdown run off the left side that made it 14-3.

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