McGahee catches first NFL touchdown

BALTIMORE -- Willis McGahee didn't mind breaking his string of eclipsing the century mark against the New York Jets. Especially since the Baltimore Ravens' $40 million running back rushed for 97 yards on 26 carries during his regular-season debut at M&T Bank Stadium. In a 20-13 victory, McGahee caught his first NFL touchdown pass on a 2-yard reception out of the backfield in the first quarter.

The former Pro Bowl runner didn't allow nerves to prevent him from catching the football while all alone in the end zone to open the Ravens' scoring.

"I was like, 'Whatever you do, Willis, do not drop this ball,'" McGahee recounted. "'You will not get another chance like this.'"

It was the first time in five games that McGahee hadn't run for at least 100 yards against the Jets, who surrendered 150 and 125 yards to McGahee last season, but he definitely didn't mind.

"I knew it was going to be a tough game," said McGahee, who was acquired in an offseason trade from the Buffalo Bills. "I knew it wasn't going to be one of those games I come out and I get 150 yards."

Instead, McGahee wound up impacting the game for Baltimore with steady ball-control as the Ravens' time of possession totaled 31 minutes and 5 seconds.

Most notable, McGahee made a big early contribution with his hands, which was one reason why the Ravens dumped Jamal Lewis.

"I was surprised, too," McGahee said. "I was like, 'I've got to make the best out of this. I'm starting to touch the ball a whole lot more in the passing game.

"That's great. That shows I have a lot of versatility out there. I can do whatever they want me to do when my number is called."

MCNAIR UPDATE: Three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Steve McNair missed his first start since joining the Ravens last year due to a groin pull.

It wasn't a game-time decision, though, as backup Kyle Boller learned Saturday that he would be starting for the first time since 2005. Will Boller be starting next week against the Arizona Cardinals?

"I don't know, we're going to have to wait and see how it pans out," McNair said. "I'm not going to say yes or no because I'm really not sure. It's still sore.

"We're just going to play it by ear, continue to work on it and see how next week goes. It was very close as far as me playing this week."

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive end Trevor Pryce broke his left wrist in the second half and didn't return. He wasn't in the locker room after the game and it's unclear how long he might be out or if he'll need to have surgery.

Wide receiver Demetrius Williams grimaced when he landed on his arm while unsuccessfully trying to corral a highly-sailed Kyle Boller pass in the fourth quarter. Team officials said he has a bruised arm.

"I'm straight, it's all right," Williams said afterward. "I just came down on it real hard."

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis didn't experience any setbacks six days after straining his right triceps.

"It wasn't a problem at all," said Lewis, who registered seven tackles. "I worked hard all week to get ready to play, and I knew in the pregame that it was fine."

DEBUTS: Rookie speedster Yamon Figurs returned a kickoff 61 yards in his first NFL start, dashing past the Jets to set up a 28-yard field goal by Matt Stover.

Figurs, one of the fastest players in the NFL with his 4.29 speed in the 40-yard dash, is starting with B.J. Sams out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. It marks the Ravens' longest return since Sams' 72-yarder last September against the Oakland Raiders.

"It was exciting," said Figurs, who also returned three punts for a 6.7 average, including a long of 16 yards. "It was great blocking upfront. I just used my speed to hit the hole.

"I wasn't nervous. I just made good decisions and took care of the ball. There's always room for improvement. Of course, I want to score."

Meanwhile, rookie Marshal Yanda started for the first time at right tackle as Adam Terry shifted over to his natural left tackle spot in place of injured All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden. The Ravens didn't allow a sack.

"I made some mistakes out there, I could have done better," Yanda said. "Yeah, I feel like I can do it as long as I work my butt off and don't think this is easy.

"That can come back and haunt you. I need to work on my fundamentals and assignments."

OUT OF HIS GRASP: Nickel back Corey Ivy finally got even in the second half after allowing Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens to elude his grasp on a near-sack in the first half as Ivy thought that Clemens had already thrown the football. Ivy decked Clemens for a seven-yard loss.

"That Giants-Titans game where the guy almost sacked Vince Young was running through my mind because I was in that same situation," Ivy said. "Next time, I've got to finish that play and play to the echo of the whistle.

"Those guys get paid to rush the passer and I get paid to cover and do special teams. If my number is called, I'm going to do my best to get the quarterback on the ground."

ROTATION: Chris Chester started his second consecutive game at right guard, but rookie first-round pick Ben Grubbs received significant playing time in relief.

"It felt pretty good," Grubbs said. "I've got some things to work on. I like getting a chance to show them I have what it takes. I need the experience."

QUICK HITS: Jarret Johnson had seven tackles and a forced fumble. … The Ravens deactivated Ogden (turf toe), kicker Rhys Lloyd, quarterback Troy Smith, cornerback David Pittman (ankle), running back Cory Ross, running back Mike Anderson (undisclosed), tight end Daniel Wilcox (ankle) and linebacker Edgar Jones. … Stover's streak of 11 consecutive field goals in the regular season ended when he pushed a 46-yard try wide right late in the second quarter. ... The Ravens are 5-1 all-time against the Jets, 3-0 in Baltimore. Baltimore is 7-5 in home openers, and this is their sixth win in seven games following a loss. Since 2000, Baltimore is 30-14 following a defeat. ... Baltimore improved to 49-1 under Brian Billick after building at least a 14-point lead. ... The Ravens limited running back Thomas Jones to 67 yards. He gained 139 against them in a 2005 game while with the Chicago Bears. ... Safety Ed Reed's interception was his franchise-leading 28th and Lewis notched his 24th. ... Rookie linebackers Prescott Burgess and Antwan Barnes played for the first time with Barnes filling in at defensive end along with Dwan Edwards when Pryce got hurt. Neither player was credited with a tackle. ...Tight end Todd Heap (seven catches, 52 yards) caught a pass for the 72nd consecutive game. ... The Jets deactivated quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, safety Abram Elam, cornerback Abram Elam, tight end Joe Kowalewski, linebacker Cody Spencer, defensive end Mike DeVito, offensive lineman Jacob Bender and tight end Jason Pociask. … Jerricho Cotchery caught seven passes for 165 yards.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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