R. Lewis shows signs of old form

TAMPA, Fla. -- It's been a while since the Baltimore Ravens' defense truly lived up to its old intimidating reputation. In a 27-0 victory Sunday afternoon over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though, the Ravens doled out several crushing tackles. The most emphatic one was probably middle linebacker Ray Lewis' hit on Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman.

"It's a tone-setter," said linebacker Bart Scott, who had two sacks, including one big shot on Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms. "It makes a statement that you will pay a price. Every time you come in here, that's what you're getting."
The Ravens limited the home team to 142 net yards of offense, and star running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams to 22 yards on eight carries.
It was Lewis' first football game since last October after missing the final 10 games of lasts season with a hamstring injury that required surgery.
Quiet throughout the preseason and often overeager in pursuit, Lewis played under control against Tampa Bay and finished with a game-high seven tackles and a sack.
"No matter what people say, I'm still me," Lewis said. "The only people I try to have my trust in are my teammates."
Afterward, Scott commandeered a television reporter's microphone in the locker room and asked Lewis if he had his trademark swagger back.
"If you want to call it mojo, I'll take that," Lewis said.
Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said he never questioned whether the seven-time All-Pro still had some mileage left after a decade in the NFL.
"The questions must have come from somebody else because we know the kind of player Ray is and the kind of leader he is," Ryan said. "He's back and you're seeing a tremendous Ray Lewis."
BOUNCING BACK: After an abbreviated preseason following his father's death, left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden pretty much shut down normally prolific defensive end Simeon Rice.
Rice never recorded a sack, although he did hit quarterback Steve McNair three times.
"I did OK," Ogden said. "Simeon Rice isn't the best player in the world when his team is down and he has to defend the run. That's not what he gets paid money to do. He gets paid to rush the passer.
"Not to take anything away from him, but we won the game and he didn't get a sack. In my book, that's a pretty good day."
Meanwhile, running back Jamal Lewis gained 78 yards on 18 carries in his most extended playing time since strained a left hip flexor two weeks prior to training camp.
He gained 34 yards on the opening drive, scoring a 4-yard touchdown. Although Lewis averaged 4.3 yards per carry, 27 yards came on a fourth-quarter burst.
"People were saying we couldn't run against them, but we were going to go out and pound the ball," Lewis said. "It was going to be a 15-round boxing match and we kept our defense fresh."
Lewis is coming off his worst season ever, a 906-yard campaign that nearly ended his career in Baltimore.
He was granted the final two weeks off last month to recuperate from the nagging hip injury.
"I heard a lot of things saying I didn't show much promise in the preseason," Lewis said with a laugh. "I might have actually been the freshest guy on the field."
TRAINING ROOM: Defensive end Trevor Pryce was the lone injury reported by the Ravens, leaving the game with a minor concussion.
Six players required IV treatments after enduring the Florida heat, including safety Ed Reed, offensive tackle Tony Pashos, running back Musa Smith, tight end Daniel Wilcox, fullback Justin Green and cornerback Chris McAlister.
HOMECOMING: Tight end Daniel Wilcox, who played on the Buccaneers' 2002 Super Bowl championship team, caught a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"It meant a lot to me to get that done, especially here," Wilcox said. "It's been a long time coming."
NO BIG DEAL: Ravens coach Brian Billick downplayed breaking an 11-game road losing streak.
"What streak?" he said. "We got a 1-0 winning streak on the road. That's the streak I'm worried about."
CONNECTION: In their first regular-season game together with the Ravens since playing eight seasons as teammates in Tennessee, McNair completed four passes for 50 yards to wide receiver Derrick Mason.
"When he first came out and we were able to chew up almost 10 minutes on the first drive, you knew that the old Steve was there," Mason said. "The way he commanded the huddle, the way he methodically drove us down the field, he made them pay."
QUICK HITS: The Ravens deactivated outside linebacker Dan Cody, a somewhat surprising scratch, along with cornerbacks David Pittman and Derrick Martin, running backs P. J. Daniels and Cory Ross, offensive lineman Chris Chester, wide receiver Clarence Moore and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin. … With a pair of field goals and three extra points, kicker Matt Stover moved into eighth place on the NFL's all-time scoring list. His nine points gives him 1,603. He was tied with Eddie Murray. … This was the Ravens' eighth shutout in franchise history, their first since 2003. … Ravens coach Brian Billick improved to 40-10 when his team scores at least 21 points and 40-1 when leading by at least 14 points. … The Ravens' 27 points ties a franchise season-opener best, which was established in a 1997 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. … The Buccaneers were without injured two starting offensive guards, Davin Joseph and Dan Buenning, and also held out middle linebacker Shelton Quarles with a pulled groin.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times.

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