T.O. taunts Ray Lewis in Ravens' loss

PHILADELPHIA -- Terrell Owens pretended to grab a patch of end-zone grass after his game-winning touchdown, signaling the onset of mockery and gloating. <br><br> Virtually every football denizen knew what the controversial Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver was up to next. Owens strutted and shook his body in a practiced pantomime of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis' trademark dance.

It was a look-at-me, in-your-face moment late in the Eagles' 15-10 victory over Baltimore (4-3) on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field that Owens, who has scorned the Ravens organization before, during and after a trade nullified seven months ago, planned gleefully after studying tapes of Lewis' choreography.

"Everybody knows what I did," said Owens, who broke through the tackle attempts of defensive backs Gary Baxter and Ed Reed for his 11-yard touchdown and a 15-3 lead with 9:12 remaining to boost his team to 7-0 for the first time. "I had a lot of fun out there."

The taunting display spawned disgust from Lewis, whose team came within a few plays of upsetting the undefeated Eagles. A fumble by running back Chester Taylor set up Owens' score and a fourth-down pass from Kyle Boller in the final minutes glanced off Travis Taylor's outstretched hands as Baltimore fell two games behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.

"If you're going to play a football game, don't be a coward and wait until you make one play and do something: Just play football," Lewis said of Owens, who caught three passes on Philadelphia's game-winning drive for 40 yards. "What's flattering is he has me on his mind when he's at home. If there's anything more flattering, I thought women would do that, but a man, whoa! There's something wrong with that."

Safety Corey Fuller said he confronted Owens afterward and told him that he shouldn't take personal shots at people, which Owens did in his autobiography when he accused Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome of making a racially-charged remark to try to lure him to Baltimore. Fuller said that his comments drew no response and Owens walked away.

"His dance made me sick, but that is karma," defensive end Tony Weaver said. "It will all come back on him. I do have one thing to say about the dance and that is that I would not want to mess with Ray Lewis."

Regardless of Owens' histrionics and eight receptions for 101 yards, the game wasn't quite over.
Not with the way a usually anemic Baltimore offense was able to operate despite the absence of three Pro Bowlers in offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, tight end Todd Heap and running back Jamal Lewis.

An accurate, composed Boller connected with 6-foot-6 rookie Clarence Moore for 52 yards down the middle to give Baltimore a first down at the Eagles' 12. Three plays later, the second-year quarterback found tight end Daniel Wilcox for a 7-yard touchdown to bring Baltimore to within five points after Owens' score.

With a 4th-and-10 at the Eagles' 48 with 1:09 left in the game, Boller heaved a bomb to Taylor.
Taylor slapped the ball with one hand, tried to gather it in with both hands a second time unsuccessfully. Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown knocked the ball to the ground to end Baltimore's comeback attempt. "I should have came up with it," Taylor said. "That's what this game was about, so close. Almost, almost."

Although some players seemed to dance around the idea of whether this was a moral victory, that notion sounds like a foreign concept to nickel back Deion Sanders. "That's like getting knocked out and saying, 'I got up after they counted to 10,'" Sanders said. "We lost."

Boller executed a conservative approach of short, high-percentage passes to keep Baltimore in the football game. He completed 24 of 38 passes for 223 yards and his lone interception came on a Hail Mary to end the first half.

"We had a chance and that's the best part about it," Boller said. "We came up short, but I really did feel like we could come down there and put that last score in."

Philadelphia relied on quarterback Donovan McNabb's mobility and accuracy to set up three field goals by David Akers. McNabb completed 18 of 33 passes for 219 yards and the touchdown to Owens. He scrambled for 36 yards, setting up field goals of 20, 41 and 43 yards.

Akers' first kick, a 20-yard chip shot in the first quarter, was set up by a 39-yard pass-interference penalty on cornerback Chris McAlister.

The fumble by Chester Taylor definitely hurt the Ravens' cause.

Trailing 9-3 and having a first down at the Philadelphia 35, Taylor was running off right tackle when Eagles safety Brian Dawkins forced the fumble and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas pounced on it.

"Any time you turn the ball over, it's going to impact the game particularly against an outstanding team," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Coughing it up, even though it was just one, it came at the wrong time. Turnovers are going to end up beating you.

"We lost the game and you can't ever feel good about a loss. With the circumstances, on the road, against a championship-caliber team with the adversity that we faced, I'm not going to go home and slit my wrists."

Taylor, who rushed for 78 yards on 18 carries, declined to comment afterward.
After the turnover, McNabb connected with Owens for completions of 15 and 11 yards to set up their ninth touchdown collaboration of the season. And that score set off Owens' Ray Lewis imitation.

"This is an entertainment business," Baxter said. "If he wants to dance, it doesn't matter. Like Deion said, the best way to not let that happen is to not let him score.

"It went down to the wire, literally. Keep in mind, we're missing three Pro Bowlers on offense. You do the math. We've got a lot of encouragement. We've got nothing to hang our heads down about."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and ravensinsider.com

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