- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens returned yesterday to what they do the best — run the football and play defense. By using their proven recipe for success, the Ravens avoided an 0-2 start.

Jamal Lewis rushed for two touchdowns and the Ravens’ defense capitalized on three Pittsburgh turnovers as Baltimore manhandled the Steelers 30-13 in their home opener before 69,859 at M&T; Stadium in an AFC North game.

Lewis scored on 3- and 1-yard runs and Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister returned Ben Roethlisberger’s interception 51 yards for a touchdown. The Ravens rushed for 172 yards and their stout run defense held the Steelers’ ground game to 93 yards.

“Obviously, it was a disappointing loss,” Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. “It was disappointing seeing them run down the field like they did. I thought we made some adjustments, but we turned the ball over and got some penalties.”

After last week’s 20-3 loss at the Cleveland Browns, a game that saw the Ravens generate just 254 yards of offense, the Ravens (1-1) knew they had to win the war in the trenches against the Steelers (1-1) perhaps to jump-start the offense.

The game’s first drive set the tone. The Ravens marched 90 yards in 6:02 and took a 7-0 lead on Lewis’ 3-yard blast behind massive left tackle Jonathan Ogden, who sat out last week’s game with an injury.

Lewis finished with 62 yards on 24 carries. However, Chester Taylor, Lewis’ backup, rushed for a career-high 76 yards on nine carries, including a 35-yard run on the Ravens’ opening drive.

“It feels good knowing we can go to any player,” Taylor said. “We try to sell Jamal, but when he comes out of the game, we can do the job.”

The Ravens’ passing game was relatively quiet. Second-year quarterback Kyle Boller completed 10 of 18 passes for 98 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns.

“It was tough. They just ran the ball down our throats,” Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. “There wasn’t anything to it, there wasn’t anything that we didn’t see on tape. They just out-executed us today.”

The Ravens’ defense, led by its outstanding linebacking corps, made the game miserable for the Steelers. Outside linebacker Adalius Thomas intercepted a pass and knocked down three others on blitzes.

Left outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who recorded an eight-yard sack, also scooped up a Tommy Maddox third-quarter fumble and returned it 24 yards to the Steelers 1. That set up Lewis’ second touchdown of the day — a 1-yard plunge behind right guard Benny Anderson — that gave the Ravens a 20-0 lead with 11:59 left in the third quarter.

Inside linebackers Ray Lewis and Ed Hartwell both had seven tackles to lead the defense. Baltimore sacked Pittsburgh quarterbacks four times for minus-26 yards. Cornerback Gary Baxter knocked Maddox out of the game with a right elbow injury on a blitz early in the third quarter.

“Our front seven, the whole group, did a great job of getting pressure on the quarterback, never let him feel comfortable,” McAlister said.

Even though the Steelers racked up 310 yards of offense, a good chunk of those yards came when the Ravens were in a prevent defense.

Roethlisberger, who entered the game for Maddox, got the Steelers on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Antwaan Randle El and a 12-yard scoring pass to Hines Ward that cut the Ravens’ lead to 23-13 with 6:10 left. A 2-point conversion try failed.

Ravens kicker Matt Stover booted three field goals — 35, 27, and 34 yards.

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