- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2002

BALTIMORE The so-called rebuilding Baltimore Ravens are .500 heading into a midseason first-place showdown.
Running back Jamal Lewis rushed for 119 yards, tight end Todd Heap caught two touchdown passes and the Ravens' young, aggressive defense intercepted three Mark Brunell passes, as the Ravens held off the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-10 before 69,173 yesterday at Ravens Stadium.
The win sets up a big game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ravens Stadium for the AFC North lead. The Steelers (2-3) play tonight against the Indianapolis Colts.
"It's kind of funny coming from where everybody said we were going to be at the beginning of the season, but this team has always believed in ourselves and we've always fought every game and we definitely did that tonight," said Heap, who caught touchdown passes of one and 20 yards.
For the third consecutive week, the Ravens (3-3) found themselves in a close game that was decided in the waning seconds. Ravens rookie safety Will Demps intercepted Brunell at the Ravens 1 with 10 seconds left that preserved the win. It was Demps' first career interception.
Despite allowing the Jaguars (3-3) to roll up 397 total yards, the Ravens defense, minus linebacker Ray Lewis for the second straight week, limited the Jaguars to just one touchdown and a second-half field goal. Brunell's three interceptions tied for the most by an opposing quarterback in a game against the Ravens. Brunell, who was knocked out of last week's game with a concussion, completed 24 of 46 passes for 231 yards with no touchdowns, three interceptions and a 39.3 quarterback rating.
Ravens defensive end Adalius Thomas intercepted Brunell in the first quarter on a terrific athletic play that set up the Ravens' first touchdown.
At his 42, Brunell tried to hit tight end Kyle Brady over the middle on second-and-15. Thomas dropped back in coverage and tipped Brunell's pass up in the air, grabbed the ball, and returned his first career interception 31 yards to the Jaguars' 19.
"Three-step [drop], you don't find [passing lanes], you deliver the ball in time and a guy got his hands up, and it was one of those things," Brunell said of the play that snapped a streak of 109 consecutive passes without an interception. "There's nothing you can do about it. I felt fine. No problems from last week. Everything was very clear, no symptoms or anything like that."
That costly turnover set up the Ravens' first touchdown. Five plays later, Ravens quarterback Chris Redman executed a perfect play-action pass on second-and-goal at the Jaguars' 1 and found Heap at the back of the end zone to give the Ravens a 7-0 lead with 13:03 before halftime.
The win would not have been possible without Jamal Lewis' hard running. The Ravens went to Lewis early and often he gained 47 yards on 10 carries in the first half. The Ravens sent a message to the Jaguars that they were prepared to play smashmouth football.
"When you dominate up front, you can't do anything but move forward," said Lewis, who recorded the second 100-yard game of the season and seventh of his career.
The Ravens are 7-0 when Lewis rushes for more than 100 yards. Ironically, it was a Lewis fumble that allowed the Jaguars to tie the game 7-7 with 5:45 left before halftime. On second-and-4 at his 18, Lewis fumbled when Jaguars defensive tackle Marcus Stroud's helmet inadvertently hit the ball from behind and linebacker T.J. Slaughter recovered at the Ravens 25.
Jaguars running back Fred Taylor tied the game on a 9-yard run around left end. Taylor was spectacular yesterday, accounting for 197 yards of offense 151 rushing and 46 receiving.
With All-Pro Ray Lewis sidelined with a partially dislocated left shoulder, Taylor became just the second player to rush for 100 yards against the Ravens since the last game of the 1998 season.
After a 30-yard field goal by Matt Stover in the third quarter, the Ravens extended the lead to 17-7 on Heaps' team-leading fourth touchdown of the season. On first down at the Jaguars' 20, Redman faked a handoff to Lewis on the left, rolled right, and found Heap wide open in the right flat.
Heap, a second-year man out of Arizona State, caught the ball at the 10, put a move on Jaguars free safety Marlon McCree, broke a Fernando Bryant tackle at the 5, and carried Jaguars strong safety Donovin Darius into the end zone from the 3.
"He's as complete a tight end as there is in the league, albeit a young one," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.
Brunell and the Jaguars made it interesting at the end. The Jaguars started at their 17 with 2:05 left in the game and trailing by a touchdown. Brunell took the Jaguars all the way to the Ravens 25 before Demps halted the potential game-tying drive.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide