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Bounce Back

By John Melillo
Jets Insider.com, Staff Writer
November 12th, 2004

There was no way for Jets head coach Herm Edwards to sugarcoat it. This Sunday’s clash with the 5-3 Baltimore Ravens is a must-win game.

There was no way for Jets head coach Herm Edwards to sugarcoat it. This Sunday’s clash with the 5-3 Baltimore Ravens is a must-win game.

“It’s a tough opponent, it’s a home game for us and it’s a game we need to win,” explained Edwards. “There’s no doubt about it. We’re running out of games. We can’t keep saying, well there’s next week and next week, this is one we need to win. The only way you bounce back is if you win.”

The task becomes all the more difficult when you insert your backup quarterback into the equation. QB Quincy Carter has been handed the reins of a Jets offense that appeared to have finally found a rhythm with QB Chad Pennington, who is now sidelined with a shoulder injury and expected to miss two to four weeks.

Edwards emphasized that Carter will not shoulder the burden in this week’s match up versus a stingy Ravens defense.

“We have to help him on offense, defense, and special teams. To win the game we have to work well together, not so Quincy has to make all these plays,” Edwards said. “He just has to play within the framework of what we’ve asked him to do and he’ll do that. He’ll be fine.”

Edwards hinted that coordinator Paul Hackett and the staff have tweaked the game plan to better suit Carter’s skills.

“I like that we’re designing a bunch of plays that we haven’t run before,” Edwards said. “They may be dialed up a little more with his strengths to be able to run those plays. We are going enjoy watching him play and he’ll do a good job for us.”

While virtually all the attention has been bestowed upon Carter in practice this week, Edwards discussed a physical Ravens team that feasts off turnovers and big plays by their special teams.

“They’re very aggressive and had six touchdowns on special teams and defense alone (this year),” Edwards said. “They’re got a defense that’s very fast and they play very good against the run. They have players that can make plays on the ball when you throw it.”

And Ravens head coach Brian Billick would not prefer it any other way. Billick admits the team’s style is to protect the ball on offense and play opportunistic on defense.

“We continue to play to our profile, which is to play outstanding defense, win the special teams and field position battles, run the ball, create turnovers and don’t turn it over,” Billick said. “It’s a formula that can succeed (and) it has succeeded.”

Those Ravens’ players creating the turnovers and playing great defense can be found in the team’s secondary, where Pro Bowl S Ed Reed, CB Chris McAlister and future Hall of Famer Deion Sanders line up. McAlister, in particular, torched the Jets during their last meeting, returning an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in 2000. Reed has been a big-time playmaker for Ravens this season, recording four interceptions this year including a game clinching and NFL record-setting 106-yard interception return for a touchdown last week versus Cleveland.

The Ravens’ secondary is among the league’s best, but it’s the intensity and talent of Ravens star LB Ray Lewis who is the heartbeat of their defense. Lewis discussed this week’s match up with the Jets during a conference call earlier this week and how the defense plans to attack Carter and the Jets offense.

“We just play our defensive scheme whatever it may be,” Lewis said. “I don’t think anything is going to change just because Chad is not playing. We’re just going to do the same thing.”

That could spell doom for Carter and the Jets offense if they are not careful with the ball this week. The Ravens defense thrives on causing turnovers and is tied for second in the NFL with 11 interceptions. Gang Green will need to rely heavily on workhorse RB Curtis Martin, a player Lewis admires and respects.

“I’ve been playing (against) Curtis Martin for years in my career. Curtis is 31 years old, (but) he’s playing like he’s 25 right now,” Lewis said. “It’s always exciting to play against a guy like that, who is a class act, and who is going to come in and play hard football.”

The Ravens boast a running back that plays hard, punishing football as well in RB Jamal Lewis. The Jets’ front seven will have their hands full against the 5-11, 245 pound Lewis, who has rushed for 575 yards rushing on 127 carries (4.5 ypc) with five touchdowns despite missing two games due to suspension earlier this year.

“He’s a very patient runner and can break the big run on you,” Edwards said. “He’s hard to tackle (because he has) good feet. He’s a good back, powerful back. He has a lot of speed and gets in the open field.”

Edwards realizes the style of football the Ravens prefer to play and noted that remaining calm could go a long way in determining the outcome of Sunday’s game.

“They’re used to playing those types of games where the score is very, very low,” Edwards said. “They’re patient. That’s got to be our mindset when we come in here. We know we have to play very well in all three phases to win.”

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS Edwards noted that rookie CB Roderick Bryant and DT Jason Ferguson have been awarded black jerseys in honor of their consistency in practice. The total number of players sporting black jerseys is now seven…The Jets ninth-ranked offense will face the fifth-ranked defense in the NFL this Sunday…Since coach Brian Billick took over in 1999, the Ravens hold a 42-2 record when owning a positive turnover mark, including 35 consecutive wins…Baltimore leads the series 2-1, including a 1-1 split at the Meadowlands. The Ravens won the last meeting, 34-20, at Baltimore in 2000.

INJURY REPORT

DE John Abraham (illness) practiced Friday after suffering from food poisoning earlier this week. Abraham reportedly lost eight pounds due to the illness, but he will play Sunday versus the Ravens as he has been removed from this week’s injury report. DE Shaun Ellis (groin) practiced Friday, but has been downgraded to questionable this week with a groin injury. S Jon McGraw (abdomen) missed practice Friday due to an abdominal strain and remains questionable and will be a game-time decision for Sunday. As previously reported, LB Sam Cowart (knee) and CB Derrick Strait (foot) were removed from the team’s injury report.

-QB Chad Pennington (shoulder): Out
-LB Jason Glenn (forearm): Out
-S Rashad Washington (foot): Out
-S Jon McGraw (abdomen): Questionable

Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com often for all the latest information as Quincy Carter and the Jets prepare for the Baltimore Ravens at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Meadowlands.

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