Defense wins scrimmage

Regardless of the unique scrimmage format, the Baltimore Ravens followed an extremely familiar formula.<p> Their defense overshadowed their offensive counterparts once again Friday night at McDaniel College. A collection of fierce tackles, sacks and an interception keyed the defense overcoming the personal effort of receiver Travis Taylor. In a scoring formula that awarded points for defensive stops, the Ravens defense took a 16-8 victory before 12,463 at Bair Stadium.

"This game is usually tight," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It usually favors the defense. The offense didn't play as well as it has played before. Usually, it's a little bit closer than this."

Taylor accounted for all eight of the offense's points by breaking tackles on both his 9-yard touchdown reception, and on a 64-yard catch that set up his score and gave the offense a brief 8-7 lead after intermission.

With All-Pro tight end Todd Heap held out because of back spasms, Taylor became the primary target for quarterback Chris Redman. Taylor showed his determination to not be arm-tackled in shrugging off defenders.

"That's one of the things I prided myself on at Florida," said Taylor, who caught two passes for 73 yards. "I'm trying to really get back to my Florida days and get my little swagger back to me."

The defense was strutting before, during and after the scrimmage.

Linebackers Bart Scott, Chris Brown and new cornerback Tom Knight made several open-field tackles. Rookie nose guard Aubrayo Franklin picked up a sack to close the scrimmage.

The first defense didn't allow a first down. "We almost let the offense back in it," Scott said. "We need to learn to put the nail in the coffin."

Safety Ray Perryman intercepted Anthony Wright following Taylor's touchdown for the deciding points as three points were awarded for an interception.

"We take pride in stopping the offense no matter who we're going against," safety Ed Reed said. "We take pride in not letting them score points."

On his initial drive, Redman missed on his first attempt and tight end Terry Jones dropped an accurate pass on third down. Redman finished 3-of-7 for 94 yards and one touchdown.

Wright went 5-for-9 for 25 yards, and was off-target on a long spiral to wide receiver Marcus Robinson as Robinson made a terrific effort to catch the ball out of bounds.

"Chris did OK on that second drive," Billick said. "He missed some opportunities on that first drive.

"Anthony moved around real well. He missed the deep ball, which is disappointing. That's one of his strengths.

It was hard to surmise much about what this might mean to the impending quarterback competition as rookie Kyle Boller was held out of the scrimmage and the defense set the tone.

"Obviously, you won't have that much of a tempo with just a couple of series," Redman said. "It's kind of hard to get a rhythm. The right direction, but there's always room for improvement. .. I think Travis has the capabilities to be one of the better receivers in the NFL."

Running back Chester Taylor was the leading rusher with 13 yards on six carries.

Rookie tight end Trent Smith stretched the secondary for two catches for 41 yards. Frank Sanders caught a pass for 21 yards. Tight end John Jones had three receptions for 13 yards, paying for one by being driven into the ground by outside linebacker Cornell Brown. As for Wright, he wishes he had a few passes back: the long pass to Robinson and the one that Perryman picked off.

"I think I made strides," he said. "I was comfortable. There are still some things we need to work on."

By the end of the scrimmage with undrafted rookie Grant Noel in at quarterback, the Ravens offense was still coughing up dust.

After a first down on a pass to fullback Ovie Mughelli, sacks by rookie defensive linemen Jarret Johnson and Franklin put the game away.

"I didn't like the way these young guys finished," Billick said. "Those are the guys that are going to have to finish the Buffalo game and they were sucking air pretty good and making some mistakes."

NOTE: Matt Stover won a kicking contest over Dan Nystrom and J.R. Jenkins.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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