5 Keys for the Ravens against the Seahawks

5 KEYS TO THE GAME 1. How much of an asset can quarterback Anthony Wright become?

The Baltimore Ravens' interim passer is dealing with more than blitzing linebackers and swarming defensive ends. His wife, Nicole, is expecting their first daughter together and is due any time now. Besides the mantle of fatherhood, Wright is being asked to direct the worst passing game in the NFL in his second start in two years. Entering today's contest against the Seattle Seahawks at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore (5-5) averages only 127.3 yards per contest with 5.4 yards per attempt. In his debut in place of injured rookie Kyle Boller, Wright was accurate most of the time, converting 56.4 percent. Yet, his two interceptions and lack of precise aim on deep throws led to Baltimore's 9-6 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins and his woeful 34.1 quarterback rating. Wright doesn't have much skill talent to work with besides Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap and NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis. His receivers are banged-up, drop-prone and unproductive. Expect Baltimore to run a controlled passing game based heavily on waggles, designed rollouts and high-percentage swing passes. Seattle rookie safety Ken Hamlin's aggressive nature might be something offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh can take advantage of by using play-action to get him sprinting toward the line of scrimmage. With former Super Bowl quarterback Trent Dilfer holding a clipboard on the opposite sideline, it's quite likely that Wright will be the latest Brian Billick quarterback to be Dilferized.

2. Pound the football behind Jamal Lewis.

Yes, there are some regrets being expressed inside and outside of the organization that Lewis wasn't used even more often against the Dolphins. He rushed 26 times for 88 yards, but didn't get the football in critical situations where Wright threw interceptions. Lewis has a total of two fumbles over the last two games, but is on pace to rush for 1,990 yards with 1,244 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games. This might be a prime opportunity for Lewis to reassert himself. Seattle is without tackles Norman Hand and Chad Eaton. Linebackers Chad Brown and Anthony Simmons are quick gap-shooters. However, Baltimore's massive offensive line can push this front seven around. Lewis wants the football badly and tends to excel at home. He has a 5.6 yards per carry at home with a 4.8 average on the road. His offensive total of 1,372 yards represents 47 percent of the Ravens' output of 2,918 yards. He has touched the ball on 42.9 percent (256) of the Ravens' 596 offensive plays. It's imperative that the burly runner be involved enough to get reliable kicker Matt Stover in field-goal range.

3. Tackle Shaun Alexander.

The Seahawks' elusive running back has scooted for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. He has 32 receptions out of the backfield for two scores and qualifies as a dangerous threat wherever he operates. Alexander has to be shadowed well by the Ravens' linebackers and perennial All- Pro Ray Lewis takes these challenges personally. The Ravens' third-ranked defense allows only 98 rushing yards a game and 3.5 yards per carry to rank eight in the NFL against the run. Seattle has a tendency to run to the left side, where it features a stellar tackle-guard tandem in Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson.

4. Contain Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

Hasselbeck is a solid quarterback with 2,222 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions for an 87.4 rating. He has a wealth of targets to choose from with Darrell Jackson (38 catches, 660 yards, four touchdowns), Koren Robinson (37 catches, 530 yards and two touchdowns) and Bobby Engram (33 catches, 408 yards and three touchdowns). The way to derail a West Coast offense centered on timing routes is to disrupt that timing with a pass rush led by defensive end Tony Weaver and outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Peter Boulware. Another method is jamming the receivers at the line of scrimmage with cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Corey Fuller.

5. Hold on to the football.

Baltimore has committed a total of 10 turnovers over the last two weeks and has a minus-5 ratio for the season to rank 14th in the AFC. Seattle is plus-6. Under Billick, the Ravens are 37-13 when they turn the ball over two or less times. Baltimore has a 5-19 mark with more than turnovers.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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