Ravens force Collins into worst outing of season
Updated: Monday January 29, 2001 9:36 AM
The Baltimore Ravens and their astounding defense thwarted his quest for a Super Bowl title.
Collins threw a season-high four interceptions, including one that Duane Starks returned 49 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, as the Ravens beat the Giants 34-7 Sunday.
"This is the most disappointing loss I have ever been involved in," said Collins, who completed 15 of 39 passes for 112 yards. "I am disappointed in the way I played. It wasn't for a lack of effort or a lack of preparation. I didn't play the way I wanted to."
The Ravens never let him, taking away the Giants' running game and keeping Collins under pressure almost every time he went back to pass.
Collins was sacked four times, hit at least a half a dozen other times and forced to scramble three times for 12 yards. His longest completion was for only 19 yards.
"They didn't do anything different," Collins said. "They didn't do anything out of the ordinary. I didn't see the field well. They did a great job of disguising coverages. They just played well and we didn't play well at all."
Collins' performance on Sunday was a far cry from his near-perfect effort two weeks ago when he went 28-for-39 for 381 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-0 win against Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game.
Collins, who overcame an alcohol problem and the perception that he was a quitter in reviving his career with the Giants this season, was confident and in command that day against the Vikings, the league's 28th-ranked defense.
The Ravens made Collins look very ordinary after an extraordinary season in which he threw for a career-best 3,610 yards and 22 touchdowns in leading the Giants to the playoffs for the first time since 1997, and their first Super Bowl in 10 years.
"I think I learned what it takes to get here," said Collins, signed by the Giants in February 1998 after being let go by New Orleans. "I think I learned what it takes to play well in this league. I learned to play at a high level throughout the playoffs."
In a split second, Collins then rallied himself.
"We'll be back. We'll be back," said the 28-year-old, who almost drank and played himself out of the league in 1998. "We'll live to fight another day. It didn't work out today. We got our butts kicked and I played terrible, but I'll come back."
The Ravens got after Collins right from the start, forcing the Giants' offense to the sidelines without a first down on five of their first six series.
Baltimore's front seven pressured Collins from the first snap. On several passes over the middle, linebacker Ray Lewis had a hand up tipping the ball. Two almost were intercepted on the opening drive.
In the end, Collins ended up losing his poise and that cost the Giants the game.
Collins then tried to force a deep post pattern into double coverage, and McAlister picked it off, killing the Giants' best scoring opportunity of the half.
"We had a double move and they did a great job of disguising the coverage," Collins said. "The coverage I thought I was going to get after I took the snap wasn't what we saw. I have Ike [Hilliard] running free and it was just a misread on my part."
Starks' interception return came on a quick slant to Amani Toomer. Starks reacted like he knew the play call, and he ran untouched into the end zone for a 17-0 lead.
"I knew the coverage I had," Collins said. "I knew all of those things. The guy stepped in front of it. I've got to see his position."
After the teams exchanged kickoff returns for touchdowns on the next two plays, Collins finished the game scrambling against a Ravens defense that kept coming after him.
"They came out determined and they came out and beat us," tackle Lomas Brown said. "They beat us physically, they beat us mentally and they beat us emotionally."