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Ravens, Lions out to prove points not that important

October 09, 2005|By LARRY LAGE

DETROIT

Those who like dazzling offenses and high-scoring games probably want to look elsewhere when Baltimore plays Detroit today.

The Ravens (1-2) are averaging just 10 points a game, while the Lions (1-2) have averaged 12 points.

"It is still going to be an exciting football game - regardless," Baltimore safety Ed Reed insisted. "Fans who love to watch the game are going to come to the game anyway, regardless of what is happening on offense, because they love the game of football.

"They understand that there is more to football than just scoring points on offense."

Detroit receiver Roy Williams said he doesn't care if the score ends up 9-6.

"As long as we're on top with that nine," he said with a smile. "They have a good defense, but I believe we will score at least one touchdown. I think we're going to have a good week because guys are really tired of all the excuses. Our defense is the only reason the scores look like they have. We're struggling to get seven points, 13 points."

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While many expect a low-scoring game, Baltimore tight end Darnell Dinkins said he simply expects to win.

"It doesn't matter if it's 3-0," Dinkins said. "Everybody wants a pretty win or nothing, but a win's a win no matter how many points you have on the board."

Since Detroit's Joey Harrington threw two touchdown passes in the opener to beat Green Bay, the Lions scored just six points when they were routed at Chicago and 13 in last week's loss at Tampa Bay.

"Everybody in this locker room knows it, we have to get better," Harrington said.

Running back Kevin Jones ran for 1,133 yards last year as a rookie, including an NFL-high 626 yards in December, but has been held to 147 yards through three games.

The Lions have drafted receivers in the first round the past three years, but Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams have failed to do much together or individually this season.

Despite the Lions' scuffling ways on offense, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said Detroit has one of the most talented group of playmakers in the NFL.

"Whether they are clicking or not, well, that is a whole other thing," Lewis said. "But they do have weapons that pose a threat."

Making Detroit's bad situation on offense worse, Rogers was suspended Wednesday for four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

"It just takes a little bit more pressure off of us," Reed said.

After Rogers apologized to teammates the day he was suspended, the Lions were in such a funk during practice that Harrington became a vocal leader for a change and told them to get it together.

"We were a little flat mentally. We were a little flat physically," he said. "We needed a little pickup."

Rookie Mike Williams and Kevin Johnson, who played for Baltimore last season, will fill in for Rogers in two-receiver sets and will play alongside Roy Williams when the Lions use three receivers.

"It's unfortunate how having more playing time is coming about, but I need to make plays," Mike Williams said. "It's definitely an opportunity.

"There's no better way to rectify this situation than to have our group come out and make plays. When you have adverse times, you have to show toughness, and this is one of those times."

Ravens quarterback Anthony Wright was given a chance to play when Kyle Boller left the opener with a toe injury.

"They have a great defense, but offensively they're struggling because Jamal Lewis hasn't got it going yet and because of their quarterback situation," Detroit cornerback Dre' Bly said. "Regardless of what our offense does, we still have to go out there and try to win a football game."

Teams have stacked the line against Lewis, daring the Ravens to pass, and the tactic has worked. Lewis was held to 57 yards in Baltimore's first two games and 81 yards on 29 carries last week in a 13-3 win over the New York Jets.

The Ravens added Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, hoping the receivers would help them open up the offense, but they haven't been able to. Mason has scored only one TD and Clayton has just eight receptions for 65 yards.

"They're going to try to get Derrick Mason involved," Bly said. "So, if people are looking for a reason to watch the game they should look for me to make plays when they go at Mason."

Though pointing to his offense would be a way to explain Baltimore's slow start, Ravens coach Brian Billick said he's puzzled by it.

"Gosh, if I knew that specifically, I could be a billionaire," Billick said.

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