- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2003

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren is counting on the Baltimore Ravens’ bumbling offense to continue its turnover-plagued ways today in an interconference matchup of divisional leaders.

Last Sunday in a 9-6 overtime loss at Miami, Ravens star running back Jamal Lewis fumbled deep in Baltimore territory to set up Olindo Mare’s game-winning 43-yard field goal in overtime. Lewis’ fumble was the Ravens’ third turnover of the game and their most costly.

“[Turnovers happen] to teams sometimes,” Holmgren said. “I hope it continues. We need a couple of turnovers and things like that to help us get going. That has been the case for us, and we are no different than anyone else. I don’t think Lewis is a fumbler. He carries the ball a whole lot, and sometimes stuff happens.”

Holmgren’s NFC West-leading Seahawks (7-3) seek their first road win of the season when they take on the Ravens (5-5) at M&T; Bank Stadium. This is the first of three straight home games for the Ravens who are tied with the Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) for first place in the AFC North. With six games remaining in the season, the Ravens must protect their home field if they are to make the playoffs.

Of a schedule that has the Ravens playing four of their last six at home, coach Brian Billick said, “It’s not the only thing, but it’s certainly going to help. There’s a reason that we’re the only team left in the league that gets four out of six at home. It’s because the first three-quarters of the season, we were on the other end of that. Playing on the road is tough — not an excuse — but tough. We’re going to need our crowd — we’re going to need the energy that brings.”

But the Ravens won’t be going anywhere if their offense doesn’t get on track. Last week against the Dolphins, quarterback Anthony Wright completed 14 of 25 for 112 yards and two interceptions in his first NFL start in more than two years.

The Ravens have the league’s lowest-rated passing attack, and there’s only so much more that Lewis, the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,244 yards and seven touchdowns, can do. However, he has fumbled three times in the past two games.

Turnovers and a lack of crisp offensive execution have been the Ravens undoing this season. Baltimore has turned the ball over 25 times (13 interceptions, 12 fumbles), which is tied for second most in the league with lowly Arizona. Only pass-happy St. Louis (27) has given away the ball more.

Wright must elevate his game today against a decent Seahawks secondary. Wright said he feels more comfortable as the Ravens’ quarterback after last week’s game. Billick named Wright as the starter last week after rookie Kyle Boller was sidelined by a torn left quadriceps.

“I’m starting to get into a rhythm,” Wright said. “I’m feeling pretty good and feel very composed. I didn’t feel a lot of pressure. I think this week is going to be a lot better.”

Seattle starts two rookies in the secondary, cornerback Marcus Trufant and hard-hitting safety Ken Hamlin. Opposite Trufant, the Seahawks line up Pro Bowl corner Shawn Springs, giving them two athletic cornerbacks.

With Wright still learning the offense, the Ravens probably will need to establish their imposing running game so he isn’t forced to make plays to win the game.

“Any team is a team that you can run on,” Lewis said. “Are you going to be able to execute from the line of scrimmage, downfield, catching the ball, things like that? Those are the keys. [The Seahawks] play sound football. I’ve watched them on defense. They are going to come to play.”

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