Wright bides his time and shines in second start

BALTIMORE - Anthony Wright was an afterthought during the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback derby that was ultimately won by rookie Kyle Boller this summer.

He was relegated to running the scout team while Boller started and backup Chris Redman bided his time. It took Boller tearing his quadriceps and Redman being overwhelmed in a loss to the St. Louis Rams for Wright to get his shot.

One week after throwing two interceptions and botching an exchange in a 9-6 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins, Wright turned in the best performance of his NFL career on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Wright, 27, posted career highs with 20 completions in 37 attempts for 319 yards and four touchdown passes in a 44-41 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks.

"It was the culmination of his hard work, staying here all offseason and getting in our playbook and starting with a clean slate," quarterbacks and receivers coach David Shaw said. "He kept his composure during the quarterback controversy when he was the No. 3 quarterback. Matt Cavanaugh and I told him every day, 'You are impressing us. Don't worry about things you can't control.'"

The win represents the top comeback in Ravens history as Baltimore overcame a 17-point deficit to eclipse a 16-point comeback victory over Jacksonville three years ago.

Meanwhile, Wright wife, Nicole, was expecting a baby girl named Trinity. The former Dallas Cowboys starter was 1-5 in his previous starts, but helped Baltimore tie a team scoring record. "I told Anthony nobody believes in you more than me," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Just be Anthony. Don't complicate this game of football." By halftime, though, it looked like Wright was on his way to another loss as the game was slipping out of the Ravens' grasp.

Down 17-3 at intermission, Wright had completed only 3-of-9 passes for 37 yards. On the first drive of the third quarter, he began throwing spirals to receiver Marcus Robinson, a teammate from his University of South Carolina days. Robinson caught four touchdown passes for a team record, all in the second half.

Wright hit Travis Taylor for 43 yards to open the second half as Taylor executed an acrobatic, one-handed grab. Then, Wright found Robinson on a 13-yard fade route over Seattle cornerback Shawn Springs to bring the Ravens within seven points, 17-10.

"I think we let it all hang out," Wright said. "We were playing a little tentative at the beginning and not playing up to our capabilities. We came back out like we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. "I knew if we continued to play tense, we would lose. The first drive of the second half set the stage for what we were going to do. We came out firing."

The 38-point outburst in the second half set a team record.

Seattle kept answering and Baltimore was eventually down 34-24 entering the fourth quarter despite Wright hitting Robinson on touchdown passes of 25 and 50 yards.

Robinson had been in the midst of a disappointing season. He entered the game with nine receptions and no touchdowns.

"We've been waiting for him to step up to the challenge all year," Wright said. "When I started playing, I said, 'No more free paycheck for you. Everything you get, you can earn it.'" Wright earned everything he received on Sunday. He concentrated on exploiting the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Robinson's mismatch over the smaller Seahawks' defensive backs and didn't throw an interception.

"Anthony was calm even though becoming a dad for the first time is a lot of pressure," Taylor said. "I told him before the game, 'This is your huddle.' He took the game over."

Down 41-31 in the fourth quarter after safety Ed Reed's score off a blocked punt, Wright led Baltimore on scoring drives of 71 and 46 yards to tie the score in regulation.

In overtime, he led the Ravens on a 12-play drive for 55 yards to set up Matt Stover's game-winning field goal.

"Anthony was a general," fullback Alan Ricard said. "He was in control of the huddle, never lost his confidence and stayed positive the whole game. You saw the outcome."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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