Taylor and Blake quite a connection

Conspiracy theorists might not relax on another front, but the legion of Travis Taylor critics might have to relent a tad. Since Jeff Blake was elevated to the Baltimore Ravens' starting quarterback job three games ago because of Chris Redman's aching back, the veteran passer has had an obvious propensity for finding Taylor downfield.

That has prompted questions about whether Blake is ignoring the other receivers, skepticism refuted by both players. Regardless, Taylor has been extremely productive lately during his third season after being the 10th selection in the first round after playing at the University of Florida.

With seven receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown in a 38-27 victory Sunday over the Cincinnati Bengals, Taylor boosted his season totals to 35 receptions and 480 yards. He has collected 18 of those catches during Blake's three starts for 260 yards and both of his two touchdown catches.

Whether the sudden quantum leap is mere coincidence or a matter of a player realizing his potential at age 24, the Ravens and Taylor aren't complaining.

"I think the biggest thing is the confidence," Taylor said. "When your confidence is up and rolling that's the biggest thing. I really don't care about the critics.

"As long as we know in this locker room what's going on, what we're doing to win, that's all that matters."

Blake said he's happy to benefit the career of Taylor in a manner similar to the way he fed the football to Carl Pickens with the Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Horn with the New Orleans Saints. Blake stressed that there are no instances of favoritism, though.

"Initially, I wanted to get the ball to Brandon Stokley," said Blake, who found Stokley for a 33-yard reception in the first half before Stokley sprained his foot. "Travis caught seven balls, but I didn't do that on purpose. It just happened. I'm sorry.

"Taylor is playing great, making plays and doing what he has to do, catching the ball. You've just got to keep feeding it to him."

Taylor erroneously thought that the football was distributed evenly by Blake. The next closest Baltimore receiver statistically to Taylor was tight end Todd Heap catching four passes for 65 yards.

 "I think everybody had at least three of four catches, if I'm not mistaken," Taylor said. "So, he's really spreading the football around and getting everybody involved."

 Taylor was put on notice publicly by Ravens coach Brian Billick before the season began with the ominous announcement that it was time for Taylor to finally live up to his draft status.

"It's time," Billick said.

Already, Taylor is seven receptions, 80 yards and one touchdown shy of tying his career-best totals of 42 receptions, 560 yards and three touchdowns established last season.

With seven games left in the regular season, Taylor is at least beginning to defy his old trend of having one strong performance before disappearing from the offense for several games because of dropped passes.

"It's hard for me to say why he's playing better," offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "I'm just glad he's making plays for us right now. It's good to see him doing that because he's been waiting for that to happen for a while."


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