Notebook: Ogden contemplates retirement

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Ravens All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden didn't declare that this was the final football game of his career following Sunday's 27-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

However, the future Hall of Fame blocker behaved that way in his words and actions as the 11-time Pro Bowl selection brought his family onto the field just in case he decides to retire after a dozen seasons.

With his wife, Kema, and two-year-old son, Jayden, sharing in the moment, Ogden watched the seconds tick off the clock as Baltimore ended a frustrating season by halting a franchise-record nine-game losing streak.

"I just wanted to make sure that if it was my last game, I got a chance to bring my son down on the field, get a picture on the field with him just in case, so he'll have something to remember," Ogden said. "I was glad I was able to do that. Right now, I've got a little time to think and we'll go from there. We'll see how it goes.

"Not a bad way to end it, the first game I've played in this year we got a win. I'm really happy now."

Ogden acknowledged that the odds of his return for next season are tilted heavily in favor of him hanging up his cleats after entering the league in 1996 as the Ravens' inaugural draft pick with the fourth overall selection out of UCLA.

"Oh yeah, they'd bet against me, probably strongly against me," said Ogden, who lives in Las Vegas the majority of the year. "But that's why we have odds. There's still a chance."

A slim chance in all likelihood, though, for Ogden, 33, a cornerstone at left tackle for so many years, including the Ravens' Super Bowl XXXV championship.

Between snaps, Ogden kept gazing around the stadium, soaking in the atmosphere for perhaps one last look around.

"I was thinking this might be the last time looking around, kind of enjoy it," Ogden said. "I might have been smiling a little more than normal on the field. It's been a pleasure playing for this city, this team, these fans.

"The city and me, we've grown together with this team. So, I'm just grateful to have been a part of it."

Offensive tackle Adam Terry said he cherished the opportunity to learn from Ogden if this is indeed the end of a distinguished career.

"It's a good thing to listen to him," Terry said. "There are things that J.O. can do that you just can't and that's the frustrating part. You watch him do things toward the end of his career, if it is the end of his career, it was great to sit behind him and watch him."

Meanwhile, center Mike Flynn said he's planning on returning next season.

"My decision is to play," Flynn said. "It's a natural decision and people will ask. I've got one year left on my contract. I plan on playing it."

FAREWELL: Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel coached his final game in Baltimore as he'll travel to Los Angeles today to be officially introduced as UCLA's head coach after three seasons with the Ravens.

"It's exciting, it really is," Neuheisel said. "I'm going to have great memories of my time here in Baltimore. It was very good graduate-course work for me, so to speak. There's so much to do, but I think, in the end, you'll be excited about the result."

Neuheisel predicted Baltimore will bounce back from this disappointing season.

"There's still a lot of fight in this team," he said. "It was an unbelievable year for developing the young players. I hope that there isn't any major implosion here because I think that would be a mistake. I think the things are in place to be very successful.

"This team is hungry. It proved it had a hunger for competition. I just believe great things are in store."

Neuheisel thanked Ravens coach Brian Billick for hiring him when he was working as a volunteer high school coach after being fired by the University of Washington in a controversial departure.

"I really owe a debt of gratitude to Brian for taking me out of football wilderness and letting me get started again," Neuheisel said. "I'll forever be indebted to him."

NEW TIGHT END: With just two healthy tight ends on the active roster due to a string of injuries, the Ravens moved Terry to tight end.

He played in several formations as a run-blocker, switching his jersey number from No. 78 to No. 84.

"It was good to be out there a little bit, it was fun," said Terry, who used his 6-foot-8, 330-pound body to pave a path for the Ravens gaining 180 rushing yards on 40 carries. "I knew I was just going to come in and block."

Terry hadn't played tight end since his senior year of high school.

The Ravens had one passing play designed for Terry, but his number was never called.

"Something really bad had to happen in order for me to get the ball," he said.

BIG SEASON: Wide receiver Derrick Mason caught six passes for 72 yards to finish the season with a career-high and a franchise-record 103 receptions for 1,087 yards and five touchdowns.

He also surpassed the 9,000 receiving yards mark and has 710 catches or 9,024 yards in 11 seasons.

"If you look at the history of this game, not many have been able to catch 100 balls in one season, not even the greats," Mason said. "To be mentioned in the same breath as a lot of these other great receivers is an honor."

PICKOFF ARTIST: Oft-criticized cornerback David Pittman capitalized on the first start of his career, intercepting his first two passes since Baltimore drafted him in the third round two years ago.

His last interception of Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch sealed the Ravens' win in the final seconds, allowing quarterback Troy Smith to kneel down twice to run out the clock.

"It felt pretty good," Pittman said. "I want to give thanks to the defensive line for pressuring the quarterback during the entire game and just doing what the coaches tell you to do.

"It kind of makes me feel a little bit better with me just being David Pittman and going out there and doing what I do. I don't pay much attention to the critics. I basically just go out there and do my job."

DRAFT POSITION: With the victory, the Ravens are assured of the eighth overall selection in the NFL draft.

QUICK HITS: The Ravens deactivated quarterback Kyle Boller (concussion), running back Willis McGahee (fractured ribs), running back Mike Anderson (hamstring), middle linebacker Ray Lewis (back, dislocated finger), defensive tackle Amon Gordon, tight end Daniel Wilcox (hamstring), wide receiver Demetrius Williams (high-ankle sprain) and tight end Quinn Sypniewski (concussion). ... The Steelers' notable inactives were quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (sprained ankle), safety Troy Polamalu (knee), offensive tackle Marvel Smith (back) and wide receiver Hines Ward. ... Kicker Matt Stove finished with 107 points to surpass the century mark for the fifth consecutive season and the 11th time in his 18-year career. With 1,822 points, Stover ranks fourth on the NFL's all-time scoring list.

5 REASONS FOR THE OUTCOME

1. The Baltimore Ravens snapped a franchise-record nine-game losing streak with a 27-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season finale Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, concluding the season with a 5-11 record and sole possession of last place in the AFC North one year removed from a club-record 13-3 campaign and a division title. It was a win earned over the listless AFC North champions, who had already clinched a berth in the AFC wild-card round and wisely chose to rest quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Hines Ward.

Still, it was no less satisfying for a Baltimore team playing without quarterbacks Steve McNair and Kyle Boller, middle linebacker Ray Lewis, cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, running back Willis McGahee, defensive end Trevor Pryce and tight ends Todd Heap, Daniel Wilcox and Quinn Sypniewski.

2. The win was manufactured by an all-reserve backfield with the exception of rookie fullback Le'Ron McClain, the lone regular starter. Rookie quarterback Troy Smith completed 16 of 27 passes for 171 yards, one touchdown pass and no interceptions for a career-high 90.2 quarterback rating. He also scrambled five times for 23 yards. Meanwhile, seldom-utilized running backs Musa Smith and Cory Ross turned in career-high performances.

Smith rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, bursting past and through linebackers. The diminutive Ross rushed for 72 yards on a dozen carries, including an electrifying 32-yard jaunt for a touchdown where his quickness was unmatched by the Steelers' defense.

3. Veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason caught six passes for 72 yards, concluding the season with a career-high 103 receptions for 1,087 yards and five touchdowns. He was aided significantly by wide receiver Devard Darling catching three passes for 49 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter to stake Baltimore to a 27-7 lead.

4. The Ravens' stout run defense showed up one more time, limiting the Steelers to 46 rushing yards on 19 carries for an average of 2.4 yards per attempt. Starting running back Najeh Davenport gained just 27 yards on a dozen carries, scoring once from one yard out after a costly pass-interference penalty on cornerback Corey Ivy.

Oft-criticized cornerback David Pittman intercepted Charlie Batch twice, including one noteworthy break on the football.

5. Baltimore had the good fortune of fumbling four times, but only lost one as Troy Smith, Yamon Figurs, Mason and David Pittman all fumbled. Plus, Smith nearly threw three interceptions. However, Steelers defenders dropped the football each time it hit them in the hands.

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


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