Sunday, October 31, 2004

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens insist today’s road game against undefeated Philadelphia is not about volatile Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens.

“We are going against Philadelphia, not Terrell Owens,” Ravens safety Ed Reed said. “This game is not for revenge because of what happened with the trade. That was a situation that was handled — it is over with. We are through it, and we are going to play Philly as best as possible and hopefully come out with a ‘W.’”

The bad blood between the unpredictable Owens and the Ravens started in March when Baltimore traded a second-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the mercurial wideout. But Owens basically forced the deal to be voided and said he wanted to play for the Eagles. An acceptable agreement was reached by all three teams, and Owens became Philadelphia’s property.

Owens, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, further inflamed the situation by blasting Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and middle linebacker Ray Lewis in his new book, “Catch This! Going Deep with the NFL’s Sharpest Weapon,” and continued his negative comments about the Ravens during interviews this week.

When a reporter termed Owens’ comments “ridiculous,” Ravens coach Brian Billick replied, “You summed that up pretty good. You know T.O., and you know Ozzie. I don’t think you have to say any more than that.”

Nonetheless, Owens is a big reason the Eagles will be going for the first 7-0 start in franchise history when they play the Ravens (4-2). The 30-year-old has caught 34 balls for 596 yards, is tied for first in the NFL with eight touchdown receptions and has teamed with quarterback Donovan McNabb for six plays of 40 or more yards, including one in each of the last five games.

In his ninth season, Owens ranks sixth on the NFL’s all-time list with 89 touchdowns and averages 17.5 yards a catch. He’s on pace to catch 91 passes for 1,589 yards and 21 TDs, which would be team records in all three categories.

With capable wideouts Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell and steady tight end Chad Lewis also on hand, the Eagles are the second-best passing team in the NFL at 278.2 yards a game. The mobile McNabb has an outstanding 105.6 passer rating and is completing 65.7 percent (140 of 213) of his passes for 1,753 yards and 13 TDs.

“[Owens] has come in and done a great job for us,” coach Andy Reid said. “He was a great player before he got here and has done the same things since he’s been here. I think it’s a tribute to him and Donovan for being on the same page so quickly.”

In the Ravens’ second preseason game, McNabb hit Owens for an 81-yard touchdown on the Eagles’ first offensive play in their 26-17 victory.

But Lewis said, “You can’t remember anything in the preseason that matters on Sunday. This will be a great defense versus a great offense, so we’ll see how it plays out.”

Note — The Ravens will be without four Pro Bowl players today: running back Jamal Lewis (suspension), tight end Todd Heap (ankle), linebacker Peter Boulware (knee) and left tackle Jonathan Ogden (hamstring).

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