1. The Ravens maintained their poise and concentration despite a highly unusual trip to Southern California. Besides spending the majority of the week practicing in San Diego because of Hurricane Isabel ravaging the East Coast, the football team had to deal with franchise player Chris McAlister being benched days before kickoff for reportedly breaking curfew and missing a team meeting.
Once the game commenced, Baltimore earned a 24-10 win over the Chargers launched by a true bounce and the alert reaction of fullback Alan Ricard. Ricard scooped up Jamal Lewis' fumble in stride for a 50-yard touchdown jaunt.
Beyond Ricard's luck
and hustle, rookie quarterback Kyle Boller overcame dropped passes, including a
bobble by tight end Todd Heap that caused an interception. Boller generally
improved in his throws and command. Later on, Heap ran a crisp fade pattern and
Boller found him in the end zone to boost the lead to 17-3.
Plus, the Ravens (2-1) generally cut down on mistakes to earn a share of first place in the AFC North along with their first winning mark since the 2001 campaign.
2. Ravens coach Brian
Billick and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh relied upon a powerhouse
rushing attack centered around Jamal Lewis' bruising style. One week after
shattering the NFL single-game rushing mark with 295 yards, Lewis wore down the
Chargers with a succession of sweeps, dives and zone runs. The NFL's leading
rusher finished with 132 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for a 5.7 average.
His 427 yards over these two weeks represents the fifth-highest two-game total in league history. Baltimore improved to 13-1 when Lewis rushes for 100 yards or more.
Lewis' blockers excelled, especially All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden running interference on outside runs.
3. Although elusive
Chargers Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson did become the first player
to rush for 100 yards this season against a stingy Baltimore defense, he was
essentially contained. His longest run was 17 yards and he only scored once. By
bottling up Tomlinson, the Ravens were eventually able to expose quarterback
Drew Brees' tendency to stare down his primary read and not using the proper
sight lines. Ed Reed, Gary Baxter and Terrell Suggs all had interceptions.
Meanwhile, Corey Fuller, Baxter, Reed and Will Demps responded well to McAlister's absence. Enigmatic wideout David Boston got his catches and yards (6-91), but never scored.
4. Matt Stover's
49-yard field goal at the end of the first half was critical.
5. The Ravens only
committed four penalties after being flagged 20 times in the first two games.
San Diego was flagged 10 times to stall several promising drives.
-- Aaron Wilson