Rams Still Seek First Win

The Baltimore Ravens and St. Louis Rams are both dealing with injuries to key players, but only the Ravens have been able to overcome those setbacks and find a way to win.

Baltimore hopes for another outstanding performance from its fierce defense and to avoid a letdown when it hosts the winless Rams on Sunday.

The Ravens (3-2) are in second place in the AFC North, but are the lowest-scoring team in the division with 88 points. Their offense has scored just five touchdowns in as many games, and has only one TD in the last 10 quarters.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Baltimore -9.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 36.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on St. Louis +9.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Last Sunday, Baltimore relied on three field goals from Matt Stover in a 9-7 win over San Francisco.

The Ravens played without left tackle Jonathan Ogden, tight end Todd Heap and cornerback Samari Rolle, then lost backup left tackle Adam Terry and center Mike Flynn to injuries. The Ravens ended the game with three rookies on a patchwork offensive line, but still gained 315 yards and did not allow a sack.

Ogden may be back for this game and Rolle is expected to play.

Baltimore had the ball for exactly 38 minutes last Sunday, and is second in the league in time of possession (34:44).

"On the offense we're doing a number of different things well that allow us to be productive, to chew up the clock. But you've got to come away with a touchdown," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "The team's playing pretty well. That's the one thing (where we) have left ourselves vulnerable in that we have moved the ball well, but we've got to come up with a touchdown instead of a field goal."

The offense may not need much scoring, though, if the defense continues to dominate.

Baltimore has the fourth-ranked defense in the league, holding opponents to an average of 274.0 yards, and is allowing an average of just 66.6 rushing yards, the second-best mark in the NFL.

Last week, the Ravens held the 49ers to one first down and 38 yards in the first half, including zero net yards passing. They allowed season lows of 163 yards and six first downs for the game.

Despite a suffocating performance from the defense, Baltimore did give up a 42-yard pass and a 23-yard touchdown pass on successive plays - much to the frustration of a unit that prides itself on perfection.

"They only got two long plays, but we've got to take away those two plays," Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed said with a grimace. "Against a good team, those two plays will cost us more than they did today."

The Ravens will not be playing a good team this week, as they host one of three winless teams in the NFL - Miami and New Orleans are the others.

St. Louis (0-5) has opened with five straight losses for the fourth time in franchise history, and is one defeat shy of matching the worst start in franchise history - set by the 1962 Los Angeles Rams, who finished 1-12-1.

"They're a desperate team right now," Billick said. "Obviously, when you're in this league and you're in that situation, it is a desperate time. And this is as dangerous a circumstance, as dangerous a team as we've played so far."

St. Louis is without Pro Bowlers Orlando Pace, Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson, and lost to Arizona 34-31 last Sunday.

The offense featured only three starters from the season opener, and two safeties were injured on Sunday. Jerome Carter went down with a broken foot that is likely to land him on injured reserve and Todd Johnson left with a neck sprain.

"You go, 'Why us?'" tight end Randy McMichael said. "It just seems like everything that can go wrong for us is going wrong for us."

Quarterback Gus Frerotte made his first start since the end of 2005 in place of Bulger, who has two broken ribs. Frerotte threw three touchdown passes, but also threw three interceptions.

Rookie Brian Leonard, subbing for Jackson the second straight week, had 102 yards on 18 carries.

The Rams are averaging the sixth-fewest yards in the league (287.4), and are tied with the Saints for the fourth-most turnovers (12).

St. Louis has been outscored 59-10 and outgained 824-432 in its two road games this season.

The Ravens, meanwhile, have won seven straight regular-season games at home, including two in 2007.

In the last meeting between these two teams on Nov. 9, 2003, St. Louis won 33-22 as the Rams outscored the Ravens 12-0 in the fourth quarter on four Jeff Wilkins' field goals.

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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