Ravens smother Vikings 19-3, trudge into playoffsPosted: Tuesday January 08, 2002 12:25 AM
Updated: Tuesday January 08, 2002 9:00 AM
BALTIMORE (AP) -- The same formula that won a Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens got the defending champs back into the playoffs.
Combining a stout defense with a run-oriented offensive attack, the Ravens struggled past the Minnesota Vikings 19-3 Monday night to earn a berth in the postseason as an AFC wild-card entrant.
Terry Allen ran for 133 yards on 23 carries, and the Ravens forced four turnovers and held Minnesota to 179 yards in total offense.
"We played great defense, we ran the ball well," Baltimore head coach Brian Billick said. "That's a great combination going into the playoffs."
It's precisely the technique the Ravens employed in running the table in the playoffs last season as a wild-card team.
"When you play good defense and run the ball, that'll get you into the playoffs," Billick said. "Sounds familiar, doesn't it?"
The Vikings (5-11) were winless on the road and playing with third-string quarterback Spergon Wynn, but the Ravens couldn't pull away until Jamie Sharper scored on 8-yard fumble return with 1:37 left after Peter Boulware's fourth sack of the night.
"Offense wins games, defense wins championships," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Just ride us, baby, we'll get you there."
Baltimore's victory eliminated the Seattle Seahawks from the playoff hunt. Seahawks quarterback Trent Dilfer, who took the Ravens to the Super Bowl last season, led a late Seattle charge that ultimately came up short.
Elvis Grbac struggled for much of the season as the replacement for Dilfer, the first quarterback to be supplanted after winning the Super Bowl. Grbac entered the game with 18 interceptions, 15 touchdown passes and an unsightly 71.9 quarterback rating.
He wasn't much better against the Vikings, going 10-for-27 for 160 yards as the Ravens' offense struggled against a team that had allowed 84 points in its last three games, all of them losses.
Baltimore couldn't score a touchdown on offense, but did manage four field goals by Matt Stover.
Minnesota was playing its first game under interim head coach Mike Tice, who took over for Dennis Green on Friday. Although the Vikings scored first, they never added to their first-quarter field goal.
"I thought we had open receivers we didn't get the ball to," Tice said.
About the only good thing about the game for Minnesota was that it marked the end of a dismal season.
"We just couldn't find a way to win," said wide receiver Randy Moss, who had only two catches for nine yards. "I can't pinpoint a part of the season where things went wrong. From day one in training camp to today, a lot of things happened."
None of it good.
Wynn went 13-for-29 for 86 yards and two interceptions. Cris Carter, playing perhaps his final game with the Vikings, had five catches for 60 yards. The 15-year veteran has been vague about his plans for next year.
"They have a lot of weapons with Cris and Randy," Lewis said, "but we set the foundation and did what we had to do to get the ball back to our offense."
A bit of trickery helped the Vikings take an early 3-0 lead. Five plays after Moss completed a 25-yard pass to Carter, Gary Anderson kicked a 26-yard field goal.
The Ravens tied it on the ensuing drive, moving 77 yards before Stover kicked a 21-yarder on fourth-and-1 from the Minnesota 3.
Minutes later, after Carter lost a fumble on the Minnesota 45, the Ravens failed to get into the end zone on six straight plays inside the 5 -- including three cracks from the 1 -- and had to settle for a 20-yard field goal and a 6-3 lead.
The Vikings had a chance to take the lead late in the first half when Dale Hellestrae, playing his first game with the Ravens, bounced a snap to punter Kyle Richardson.
Richardson couldn't get a handle on the ball and finally just pounced on it, giving Minnesota a first down at the Baltimore 10.
But Wynn immediately threw an interception on a pass to Moss in the end zone, and Brandon Stokley turned a short pass into a 46-yard gain, setting up a field goal as the first half expired.
Notes: The Ravens' win left the AFC and NFC tied at 30 wins apiece in interconference play. ... Carter's catch from Moss was his 1,000th with the Vikings over 12 seasons. ... It was the final regular-season game for Ravens DT Tony Siragusa, who will retire after this season. ... Boulware's four sacks gave him the AFC lead with 15.