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Ravens come back after squandering 17-0 lead

11/25/2001

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Shannon Sharpe knew Elvis Grbac could
play better. On Sunday, Sharpe did his best to help the quarterback
prove that point.

Grbac drove the Baltimore Ravens 74 yards in the final 90
seconds and Sharpe made a foot-dragging catch in the back of the
end zone to rally the defending Super Bowl champions to a 24-21
victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Will Elvis Grbac's game-winning drive silence Shannon Sharpe?
I think so -- because Grbac threw the game-winning touchdown to Sharpe. Sharpe has to be happy about that.

Give Elvis a lot of credit. He drove the Ravens to the win with under a minute to go; he earned his money today. This is why Brian Billick brought Grbac in, to win these kinds of games. Billick didn't think Trent Dilfer could win a game that required this kind of last-gasp drive and the types of throws Grbac made. But Grbac did it today.

ESPN.com's Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


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It was Sharpe who criticized Grbac last week after his five
turnovers in a loss to the Cleveland Browns, prompting coach Brian
Billick to muzzle his players.

What Billick didn't do was completely rule out a change at
quarterback. But now that debate is over.

"Anyone want to ask me who my quarterback is next week?"
Billick said. "Again, remember now, that's why owners own, coaches
coach, players play and writers write."

Grbac threw for 259 yards, and his winning touchdown pass with
nine seconds left kept the Ravens (7-4) 1½ games behind AFC
Central-leading Pittsburgh.

It ruined quite a comeback by the Jaguars (3-7), who used the
no-huddle offense to rally from 17-0 down for a 21-17 lead on
Stacey Mack's 3-yard run with 1:32 remaining.

This is the third time in five games the Jaguars have blown a
fourth-quarter lead, and none could have been as disappointing as
this.

"It's extremely frustrating -- extremely frustrating to watch
that take place, then talk to these kids about losing another
football game we should have won," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin
said.

Tony Brackens recovered a fumble at the Baltimore 38 with 4:19
remaining and Jimmy Smith drew a pass-interference call to keep
Jacksonville's go-ahead drive going at the Baltimore 5. Two plays
later, Mack sliced in and the Jaguars thought they had a victory
that might have kept their slight playoff hopes alive.

But Grbac started doing his Joe Montana impression, hitting
Qadry Ismail for 25 yards, Brandon Stokley for 17 more, Sharpe for
10 and Ismail again for 16.

On second-and-goal from the 1, T.J. Slaughter tackled Jason
Brookins for a 2-yard loss. Then came the game-winner.

Sharpe slid behind safety Ainsley Battles and Grbac lobbed a
perfect ball to the back of the end zone over Sharpe's head.

Sharpe dived to make the catch, dragging his feet just inbounds,
and ended up flat on his back beyond the end line. He was smothered
by his teammates, who helped celebrate the Ravens' fourth straight
victory over the Jaguars.

It was a fitting ending for the outspoken tight end, who became
the NFL's all-time leading pass catcher at the position last week.
He said the back-and-forth between himself, Grbac and Billick was
overplayed.

"Elvis is the guy who can get us to where we need to go," said
Sharpe, who finished with six catches for 55 yards. "You saw
today, when he is protected, he can throw the football as good as
anyone in this league."

The Jaguars, who have griped all year about the soft defenses
they've played in the fourth quarters of these losses, were as
outspoken as ever.

They complained that defensive coordinator Gary Moeller called
soft zones during most of Grbac's late-game march, then went for an
all-out blitz on the game-winner, leaving Battles in single
coverage on Sharpe.

"You guys know as well as anyone that the ball is going to the
money man in that situation, and we had one guy on him,"
cornerback Aaron Beasley said.

Mark Brunell finished 23-of-38 for 259 yards in a good return
from the torn leg muscle that kept him out of last week's 20-7 loss
to Pittsburgh.

He threw passes of 17 and 15 yards to Kyle Brady to lead the
Jaguars to their first touchdown, which ended the offense's stretch
of 25 drives without a score.

But there were other missed opportunities that made a difference
-- Mike Hollis' missed 38-yard field goal attempt and an empty
possession after a second-quarter interception that gave the
Jaguars the ball at the Baltimore 44.

And, of course, no Jaguars loss this season would be complete
without a controversial call by the officials.

In the third quarter, Jacksonville forced Brookins to fumble
near the goal line and a scramble ensued. Brackens came out with
the ball, but officials ruled Brackens and a Ravens player had
simultaneous possession, which meant Baltimore retained possession.

Donovin Darius got hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty
for arguing the call, and Coughlin was told the play was not
reviewable. On the next snap, Brookins scored his second touchdown
for a 17-0 lead.

Game notes
Ravens defensive end Rob Burnett sat out the second
straight week with a calf injury. Linebacker Peter Boulware
responded by moving to the line and getting two sacks. ... Matt
Stover made his 18th straight field goal, before missing from 41 to
snap the streak. ... Hollis' miss was his sixth in 14 tries. ...
Jaguars linebacker Kevin Hardy was inactive with a knee injury.