- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

In Jamal Lewis’ last game until November, the Baltimore Ravens’ bruising running back pounded the Washington Redskins into submission last night.

Lewis was a second-half locomotive barreling over anything burgundy and gold in his way. He was stopped cold in the first half, but once the Ravens captured the lead, Lewis showed a national television audience his Pro Bowl credentials.

The heart and soul of the Ravens’ air-less offense was brutally efficient rushing for 97 of his 116 yards in the second half and allowing the Ravens (3-2) to play their favorite brand of smashmouth football.

“Coach said we were going to get it downhill and run it, which is one thing we can do,” Lewis said. “The offensive line took advantage of that and dominated the line of scrimmage.”

Once the Ravens took a 14-10 third-quarter lead (courtesy of defense and special teams), coach Brian Billick used his workhorse between the tackles. With two inept offenses on the field, Lewis turned the second half into a one-man show, carrying 18 times. For the game, Lewis carried a season-high 28 times.

“We had to control the clock and pound the ball. The coach called on us and we answered,” Lewis said of the Ravens ability to run the ball in the second half.

No team had rushed for 100 yards on the Redskins this season until Lewis showed up in Landover. The Ravens held the ball for 12:33 of the fourth quarter.

“He just took the game on his shoulders — that’s why we gave him the game ball,” Billick said.

It had been a busy week for Lewis. On Thursday, he was in an Atlanta federal courtroom to plead guilty to helping set up a drug deal with a government informant. Under a plea bargain agreement, Lewis will spend four months in prison, two months in a halfway house and perform 500 hours of community service once the Ravens’ season ends.

On Friday, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue suspended Lewis for two games and fined the star back an additional two games (four paychecks), or a total of about $760,000.

Lewis will miss games against the Buffalo Bills on Oct.24 and at the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct.31. The Ravens have a bye this week.

With Lewis unable to get going in the first half, the Redskins forced second-year Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller to beat them in the air, and that led to a purple disaster. With no running game to speak of, Boller tossed three interceptions in the half.

Running the football is what the Ravens do best, and the Redskins took that away. Coming into the game, the Ravens knew the Redskins’ defense was capable of stopping the run because it was ranked first in the NFL, allowing opponents just 59.5 yards rushing a game.

But Lewis and the mammoth Ravens offensive line make up the third-best rushing attack in the AFC, averaging 148.5 yards. And in the end, the Redskins’ defense wore down under a relentless pounding.

In the first 30 minutes, however, the Ravens ran 14 times for just 22 yards. Lewis, who put together the second-greatest rushing season in NFL history with 2,066 yards in 2003, was stuffed all half.

The turning point for Lewis came in the third quarter, when he rushed six times for 52 yards.

On the last play of the third quarter, Lewis broke his longest run of the game when he bounced around left end and rambled 26 yards down the left side. Before that, his longest run was a 10-yard burst early in the second quarter.

This was Lewis’ second 100-yard rushing game of the season. In Week3 at the Cincinnati Bengals, he had 186 yards on 18 carries, carrying the Ravens to a convincing 23-9 victory.

Lewis, who entered this game as the AFC’s sixth-leading rusher, now has 494 rushing yards for the season and, after a three-week layoff, should be fresh for the Ravens’ stretch run. However, his quest for back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons may be doomed with only eight more games in his season.

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