Brandon Stokley did something out of character."> Brandon Stokley did something out of character.">

2002 Ravens Recap. Week 1 Vs Panthers

A look back at last season's opener in Charlotte.<br><br> Bliss in the Baltimore Ravens' castle would be a day free of dissecting crucial mistakes that turn prospective touchdowns into drives gone awry. During the Ravens' 10-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, receiver <A HREF="http://scout.theinsiders.com/a.z?s=118&p=8&c=1&nid=266296&yr=2002">Brandon Stokley</A> did something out of character.

It was a prime example of what has plagued an offense that moves the football, but struggles to capitalize on scoring opportunities.

The situation: Late in the third quarter, third-and-two on the Panthers' 24-yard line, and Stokley commits a false start penalty.

Instead of kicking from an easier range of 42 yards, kicker Matt Stover had to extend his leg for a 47-yard attempt that he hooked wide left. It could have tied the score and changed the complexion of the game.

"I'll come down hard on myself, and it's all I've been thinking about," said Stokley, who had a career-high six receptions for 83 yards. "If I hadn't jumped offsides, Matt would have made that field goal and we probably would have won that game.

 "I need to get over it and put it behind me."

In such a close contest, any of several plays could have transformed a loss to a 1-15 team from last year into a victory. If it was an isolated occurrence, the Ravens wouldn't have cause for some concern, although the team did have some bright spots on offense.

New quarterback Chris Redman completed 20 of 34 passes for 218 yards, a touchdown and a costly interception in the final minutes of the game.

That happened when Carolina rookie end Julius Peppers burst upfield to bat Redman's pass to middle linebacker Dan Morgan to seal the win. Redman was trying to find Stokley before Peppers obscured his passing lane.

Running back Edwin Mulitalo didn't communicate well enough as to who was responsible for detaining the explosive Peppers. Mulitalo picked up defensive tackle Brentson Buckner, leaving Peppers in a mismatch against Lewis.

"Everybody needs to buckle down and focus and make sure they do their job perfectly," said tight end Todd Heap, who caught five passes. "If you get one guy who makes a mistake and lets his guy get upfield, anything can randomly happen and plays break down."

In the first quarter, the offense worked with precision absent in the preseason. Redman completed six consecutive passes on his second possession and found rookie receiver Ron Johnson for an 8-yard score.

Heap, whom Billick predicts 70 to 80 receptions from, caught three passes. Travis Taylor hauled in a 36-yard rainbow spiral to the Carolina 11 to set up Johnson's score.

It was rare efficiency for a first offense limited to three field goals and no touchdowns in August.

 "We could have won that game," said Johnson, an imposing target at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds. "As a unit, we're not completely together. We can knock those mistakes out."

Later on, Redman regretted an errant throw to Johnson in the third quarter when the Panthers had a busted coverage.

"I made a lot of mistakes," Redman said. "I've still got a ways to go. I really learned a lot. We need to correct some little things."

Billick wants to play to the Ravens' strengths by involving Heap more as a vertical threat. Against Carolina, Heap did line up at wide receiver and was used in motion.

With Lewis' knee sound again, the Ravens hope to lean on the former 1,364-yard rusher. Seventeen carries for 64 yards represents his most work since Super Bowl XXXV.

Lewis could be a major asset in the red zone.

"Your options are less when you get down there," Billick said. "You have less of a vertical threat. More and more teams are playing a soft zone and not letting anybody behind it. You have to be able to run the ball to do well in the red zone.

"We have the nature of athletes to do that."


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