Stover is sure-footed in the clutch again

BALTIMORE - The entire football game came down to a swing of Matt Stover's right leg. It was hardly an upset when the Ravens' veteran kicker converted a 42-yard field goal in overtime to give Baltimore (6-5) a 44-41 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

A hushed crowd erupted in applause when Stover split the uprights. The game-winning kick followed his 40-yard field goal as regulation expired to force the extra period.

"I thrive on that," Stover said. "I prepare myself every week for that game-winning kick. Today, it was the game-tying kick and the game-winning kick."

For the season, Stover has converted 25-of-27 field goals. He has made his last 15 field goal attempts.

"Matt's just that type of guy," receiver Marcus Robinson said. "You don't have to worry about him making a field goal like that."

An original Cleveland Brown, Stover entered his 14th NFL season with 81.6 percent career accuracy by hitting 288 of his 353 career field goal attempts.

He leads Baltimore with 95 points and hasn't missed an extra point since the Ravens' inaugural season in 1996.

"That's what I live for," Stover said of the pressure situation. "I went out there and did my job. I got a good snap and a good hold on both of them."

SECONDARY STRUGGLES: Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck orchestrated the West Coast offense to near perfection.

He threw five touchdown passes to eclipse the Ravens' previous opponent team mark of four touchdowns by New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe.

Hasselbeck passed for 333 yards on 41 attempts with no interceptions for a 122.3 quarterback rating.

He found Darrell Jackson seven times for 146 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown pass behind cornerback Corey Fuller in the third quarter.

"It was an ugly game," said Fuller, who was eventually replaced by free safety Gary Baxter because of an injured quadriceps and hamstring. "They had great personnel. I can't keep playing like this. I've been running on one leg."

Hasselbeck distributed the football to seven different receivers, using a controlled passing game to move the football down the field. Seattle posted 426 yards of total offense and 24 first downs against Baltimore's third-ranked defense. Baltimore did hold running back Shaun Alexander to 72 yards on 22 carries for a 3.3 average per carry.

"When you make little mistakes, they are going to expose them," Reed said. "They made big plays, but we've still got a lot of football left."

PASS RUSHERS: Baltimore sacked Hasselbeck six times with two apiece coming from bookend outside linebackers Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs.

Suggs stripped Hasselbeck on a second-quarter sack and returned the fumble seven yards to give the Ravens the football at the Seahawks' 3.

Baltimore was stuffed in the red zone, but the score did set up a Stover field goal that tied the game at 3.

"When we're playing the way we can, we're very dangerous," said Suggs, a first-round draft pick who has eight sacks in 11 football games.

SECONDARY OPTION: Running back Jamal Lewis rushed for 117 yards on 26 carries and tied his club rushing record of 1,364 yards from his rookie campaign.

He fumbled in the fourth quarter, his third in the last three games, but Reed scored on a blocked punt on Seattle's ensuing drive. Lewis was again faced with a stacked line of scrimmage all day.

"Believe me, it was tough sledding," Lewis said. "I was hitting all the right holes like I was supposed to, but there was always a free man around to make the tackle.

"When you can throw the ball downfield, it kind of changed the rules a little bit and took the pressure off the running game."

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive end Tony Weaver aggravated a neck injury in the first half and didn't return.

Weaver had been listed as questionable after suffering a stinger against the Miami Dolphins, but started his 27th consecutive football game. Cornerback Tom Knight sprained his right foot and will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam. Offensive tackle Orlando Brown had a thigh contusion, and running back Chester Taylor strained his neck.

Seahawks safety Reggie Tongue left the game with a concussion after being run over by Robinson in the second half.

INACTIVES: The Ravens deactivated quarterbacks Ray Lucas and Kyle Boller, fullback Ovie Mughelli, cornerback Raymond Walls, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, offensive tackle Damion Cook, tight end John Jones and wide receiver Ron Johnson.

PENALIZED: Baltimore committed a season-high 14 penalties for 112 yards. That gives the Ravens a total of 34 penalties over the last three weeks.

QUICK HITS: The combined 85 points is a team record, breaking the Ravens' previous mark of 84 points in a 46-38 loss to the New England Patriots on Nov. 26, 2000. … Former Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer made a brief appearance in overtime when Hasselbeck hurt his shoulder for his first playing time in Baltimore since his departure after the Super Bowl win. … The Ravens collected 15,000 pounds of food and $10,000 of donations at the stadium gates in their annual food drive to benefit families through the Maryland Food Bank.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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