Taylor rushed for 151 yards on 13 carries, one of them a 43-yard
touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, helping Baltimore beat
New Orleans 21-6 Friday night.
"I should be thanking the offensive line. They were giving me a
crease to hit, giving me a chance to look up and see the end
zone," Taylor said.
New Orleans could not get in the end zone against the stingy
Ravens, settling for two field goals by reserve placekicker Nate
The Saints, who stressed stopping the run and covering kicks in
practice this week, needed only 20 seconds to elicit boos from the
home crowd on both counts. Baltimore's B.J. Sams returned the
opening kickoff 48 yards to the Saints 43. And on the first play,
Taylor found a huge hole on the left side of the line, cut back to
the right and outraced everyone.
"The most important thing for us is just to be ready when we go
to Carolina" for the season opener, Saints defensive end Charles
Grant said. "One touchdown and the fans go to booing us. That's
not called for. No matter what people say, the fans say, the papers
say, this is a good football team."
It didn't look that way on Taylor's next run, either -- also
Baltimore's next play from scrimmage. He broke free for a
50-yarder, giving him 93 yards on two carries. The Saints saved
face on that drive when Boller's deflected pass was intercepted by
Grant on the New Orleans 22-yard line for Boller's fourth
interception in three games.
Having given up a 40-yard touchdown run in their opener against
Seattle and a 49-yarder to New England last week, the Saints
clearly have more work to do in that area.
"I was disappointed in the way we tackled," Saints coach Jim
Haslett said. "All in all, I thought we took a step backward."
But there were some encouraging signs for New Orleans.
Johnathan Sullivan, a No. 6 overall draft pick in 2003 who last
season saw his weight keep him out of action, played often. While
Sullivan was not in for Taylor's big runs, he played throughout the
third quarter, when Baltimore managed only 3 yards rushing. He was
in on four tackles, including a sack for a 10-yard loss.
"He was very active. His weight's way down to 310 (pounds) and
he has been moving well," Haslett said.
Baltimore finished with 181 yards rushing, although Jamal Lewis
didn't play because of a bone spur in his left foot.
New Orleans' first-team offense had only two decent drives in
the first half.
Ronald McKinnon was flagged for leading with his helmet when he
sacked Boller. The 15-yard personal foul put the Ravens on the
Saints 38. Three plays later, Boller narrowly averted a blitz by
lofting a sideline pass to Clarence Moore that made it 14-3 as
cornerback Mike McKenzie fell down.
"We knew they'd bring pressure and I wanted to take a shot,"
Boller said. "It was easy. I threw it up and Clarence went up and
Boller finished with 53 yards passing, completing 5 of 11
attempts in one half. Coach Brian Billick deflected blame
"We have to pass block better," the coach said. "When our
quarterback is getting the hell knocked out of him, that's not
Fikse hit a 48-yarder to close the score to 14-6 at halftime.
Brooks, who left after the first half, was 10-of-20 for 139
yards. New Orleans had 102 yards on the ground, 33 yards on
scrambles by reserve quarterback Adrian McPherson, who led the
Saints in rushing but completed only one pass for 9 yards.
"The things we did give up were just some miscommunication, but
that's football," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who had four
tackles. "The important thing is we didn't give up a touchdown."<
Notes: The Saints suffered a couple serious injuries to reserves
in the third quarter. Tight end Boo Williams tore both the ACL and
MCL in his right knee, likely ending his season. Rookie linebacker
Alfred Fincher broke his right wrist trying to assist on a tackle.
Also, Haslett said G Jermane Maybery strained his left calf muscle
and could miss a couple weeks. ... DB Deion Sanders did not play.
CB Dale Carter played sparingly because of tightness in his back,