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American Football: Ravens win but at a cost

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posted on Sep, 3 2004 @ 08:43 AM
Take away the seemingly minor knee injury to seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden and the Baltimore Ravens had a perfect preseason finale against the New York Giants Thursday night.

Kyle Boller threw a touchdown pass, Chris McAlister scored on an interception return and Jim Fassel got to enjoy it all on the Ravens' sideline with a decisive 27-17 win over the Giants.

"It's just what you want in the last preseason game," Baltimore coach Brian Billick said. "We came out relatively healthy. We had a lot of efficiency on offense. We gave up a big play and we turned around and responded. It was a complete game and you have to feel good about it."

The first-quarter injury to Ogden had Billick sweating for a while, but the coach believes it was just a minor sprain to his left knee.

The Ravens (3-1) were uncertain about Ogden's status for the season opener on Sept. 12 at Cleveland.

The game was Fassel's first here since being fired by the Giants after a 4-12 campaign last season, and it must have seemed like old times.

The Giants, who lost their last eight games in 2003, played poorly and the fans were booing the team and new coach Tom Coughlin by halftime.

Fassel's quarterbacks also played well with Boller and Kordell Stewart combining to hit 14-of-15 passes in the first half for 186 yards.

"It's a great way to go into the Cleveland game," said Boller, who was 6-of-7 for 84 yards, including a go-ahead 3-yard TD pass to Kevin Johnson. "We tried to work on being efficient and I think tonight we did some good things."

The Giants (1-3) have bigger concerns heading into their opener at Philadelphia a week from Sunday.

New York trailed 24-3 at the half and its only touchdowns, a 27-yard run by Chris Douglas and a 42-yard pass from Jesse Palmer to Jamaar Taylor, came against the Ravens' backups.

"It's not what I was looking for in the last preseason game," Coughlin said.

The Giants were miserable in almost every phase. The defense put up little opposition, the offense didn't produce points and placekicker Todd France missed his first field goal of the season.

"You don't want to play as bad as we played," linebacker Carlos Emmons said. "Even though the records in the preseason don't mean anything, your performance means something, and we didn't play well at all."

Boller, who has been personally tutored by Fassel this season, gave the Ravens a 7-3 lead with his pass to Johnson. It came one play after Ogden was hurt.

While Ogden was being examined on the bench, the Ravens' defense scored. On a third-and-9 from the Giants 14, McAlister stepped in front of Kurt Warner's pass to Amani Toomer along the left sideline and returned it 23 yards for a 14-3 lead.

Stewart took over at the start of the second quarter and hit all eight of his passes for 102 yards. He hit five in a 72-yard drive that ended with Matt Stover kicking a 29-yard field goal.

After Warner was sacked on a fourth-and-4 at the Ravens 41, Stewart hit Randy Hymes on passes of 9, 9 and 32 yards on consecutive plays in setting up Musa Smith's 6-yard touchdown run with 1:50 left in the half.

As the teams went to the sidelines, Fassel heard the all-too familiar "boos" from the Giants fans. This time though, they were aimed at Coughlin.

Wade Richey added a 50-yard fourth-quarter field goal for Baltimore's only points in the second half.

The Giants' only bright moment in the first half came on their opening series, when Warner completed a 49-yard pass to Tim Carter to set up a 24-yard field goal by Todd France.

Warner finished 7-of-9 for 79 yards. Eli Manning, the No. 1 pick overall, was 4-for-7 for 99 yards.


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