The Even with the on-field temperature reaching 141 degrees, the Ravens’ offense felt as if it got a breather yesterday. Given a day off from playing against the NFL’s top-ranked defense, the Ravens’ first- and second-team attacks moved the ball with ease in yesterday’s 10-7 scrimmage win over the Washington Redskins.
The sun-soaked announced crowd of 25,332 at M&T Bank Stadium watched the first-team offense put together a 61-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal by Matt Stover and the second-team attack go 60 yards as P.J. Daniels finished off the series with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“When you play against the No. 1 defense in the NFL, its kind of hard to see how good our offense really is,” quarterback Steve McNair said, referring to training camp practices against the Ravens’ defenders. “Coming out today, we moved the ball and made some plays down the field. That shows where we’re at and how far we’ve got to improve. In just five plays, McNair completed all three of his passes for 33 yards.
His final two throws went to tight end Todd Heap for 12 yards and to receiver Demetrius Williams for 14 yards. Backup Kyle Boller had the most work of any Ravens quarterback, completing five of eight passes for 88 yards. He misfired on two passes inside the Redskins’ 5-yard line to stall the first drive, but he completed three passes for 58 yards to set up the second one, which ended with Daniels scoring a touchdown on a wide-right run to put the Ravens ahead 10-0.
The biggest Ravens play of the game came on the first play of the second series, when Boller connected with tight end Daniel Wilcox on a 39-yard pass. Wilcox found an open area in Washington’s zone defense, and Boller delivered the pass to him with a nice touch. “After I caught the ball, I turned around, and I had never seen that much green grass in my life,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox caught two passes for 53 yards, and Williams continued to show his potential with three receptions for 38 yards. The Ravens’ offense wasn’t surprised by how quickly it found its rhythm yesterday. For five days of training camp, the offense is subjected to countless complex looks from its defense, which returns 10 of 11 starters. The Redskins were the closest thing we’ve seen to a regular defense this year,” Wilcox said.
Because the Redskins didn’t play their first-team offense for the scrimmage, the Ravens sat out their starting defense. Still, the second and third teams didn’t allow Washington past their 40-yard line on the first two series. The Redskins avoided the shutout in their third and final possession, when receiver Burl Toler beat reserve Ravens cornerback Terrell Maze for a 24-yard touchdown.
“It’s a testament to our depth and our scouting department bringing in quality players who know how to play Ravens football,” Pro Bowl linebacker Bart Scott said. Like the Ravens’ starting defense, running back Willis McGahee didn’t get a lot of work. McGhee, who was traded from the Buffalo Bills this past off-season, ran the ball four times for 9 yards and caught one pass for 3 yards.
“I can get used to this. I can’t wait until the opener,” he said. “I’m ready.”The former University of Miami standout said he wasn’t affected by the sweltering conditions. “What heat? I wasn’t complaining about it,” McGahee said. “I’m [an] all-terrain guy.”Others felt the effects of playing on the toasty artificial turf, which absorbed the heat and turned the 100-degree day into 141 degrees on the field.
“My toes are still burning,” McNair said in the locker room. The Ravens can recuperate with a day off today and will then return for another week at Westminster in preparation for their Aug. 13 preseason opener at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. “You walk onto the field and you’re literally drained from the beginning,” Heap said. “You got to pump yourself with Gatorade and water just to get that energy back. It was just brutal out there.”
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