Ravens discover offensive balance

OWINGS MILLS -- It was truly a rare occurrence for the Baltimore Ravens' usually anemic offense. Not only did the Ravens register a franchise record for points and touchdowns as they crushed the Green Bay Packers 48-3 in the most lopsided Monday night game ever, but they finally manufactured a balanced offense.

An attack that has often been one-dimensional adeptly combined the elements of the run and the pass as running back Jamal Lewis rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Kyle Boller delivered three touchdown passes.

"When you can go out and throw the ball around and run the football, that's a balanced offense," Lewis said. "That's what we've been looking for."
The Ravens attempted 38 runs for 182 yards, a 4.8 average per carry. Boller threw 27 passes, completing 19 of them for 253 yards and 70.6 percent accuracy.
Baltimore (5-9) finished with 435 yards of total offense and an average of 6.7 yards per play. And the Ravens converted 7 of 13 third downs and converted 2 of 3 red-zone opportunities.

"That sheet is the one you want," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "That's the one you want to bottle up and hope you can repeat over and over again."

DEFENSE KEEPS IT UP: The defense didn't have to carry the offense for a change, but still contributed heavily with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

That included linebacker Adalius Thomas' 35-yard fumble return after safety Chad Williams jarred the ball loose from rookie quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

About the only thing that didn't go according to plan was the Ravens' suspect hands. They dropped at least four interceptions, including three by safety Ed Reed.

"The turnovers, we left a few out there -- it's amazing how many -- we did a good job knocking down some interceptions," Billick said.

Meanwhile, Favre constantly misfired and took unnecessary risks.

"It just seemed like he was throwing balls up in the air, which is not typical of him," cornerback Chris McAlister said. "Trust me, the way those balls were floating around, I would play against Favre any day."

NO ROOKIE FATIGUE: Unlike many first-year players who collide with the so-called rookie wall and don't get up, receiver Mark Clayton seems to get stronger every week.

He scored a touchdown for the second consecutive game, dashing into the end zone on an 11-yard run off a direct snap.

"I don't know if it was because he was hurt and out for a while and passed by it during that period of time," Billick said. "Maybe it's because he comes from a program that was always playing into January coming from Oklahoma."

TRAINING ROOM: Billick indicated that the most serious injury was a sprained ankle suffered by backup tight end Darnell Dinkins. Dinkins was walking without a noticeable limp Tuesday at the team's training complex.

Billick said he was encouraged by the progress of tight end Daniel Wilcox (high-ankle sprain) and linebacker Mike Smith (hamstring).

Boller's toe, which forced him out of the first half of the season and Saturday's practice, remains tender.

"It's sore for him all week long, but he deals with it pretty well," Billick said.

Reed is breaking on the football much quicker each week since returning from a high-ankle sprain.

"I think with each week it feels better and better, or he's managing with the pain better," Billick said. "Again, the proverbial high ankle sprain never really gets healed until after the season."

QUICK HITS: Rookie lineman Jason Brown played both guard positions and lined up at center against Green Bay. "Jason is really progressing very quickly," Billick said. … Rookie offensive tackle Adam Terry played almost the entire fourth quarter. … Following Lewis' thunderous block on Clayton's touchdown run, he was startled by Billick. "When he came running off, I told him he's a hell of a good-looking fullback," Billick said. "I scared the hell out of him. He did a great job." … It was the first time the Ravens have scored two touchdowns in the first quarter in Billick's seven-year tenure. "I'm glad I didn't hear it at the time, I might've gone into the locker room and just changed and gone home," Billick said. "It's amazing." … The Ravens awarded game balls to Boller, Thomas and fullback Ovie Mughelli.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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