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Lucas drags Miami out of skid

©Associated Press
November 18, 2002

MIAMI -- Three consecutive losses as a starting quarterback left Ray Lucas wondering whether he belonged in the league.

But the Dolphins never lost faith in their popular teammate, and he finally rewarded their confidence Sunday, throwing for 221 yards to help beat the Ravens 26-7.

"I'm going to sleep tonight for the first time in a month," Lucas said, looking relieved rather than jubilant.

Miami ended a streak of three losses, all with Lucas starting for Jay Fiedler, who likely will miss two more games with a broken thumb.

A seven-year veteran, Lucas acknowledged doubting himself.

"It's a scary aspect of the business," he said. "To go out there and lose three straight, it creeps into your mind."

But his fast start against Baltimore gave Miami some breathing room, and a suffocating defense did the rest. Miami notched seven sacks and held the Ravens to a season-low 157 yards.

"That's a butt-kicking right there," linebacker Zach Thomas said. "We played some smashmouth."

Despite their recent slump, the Dolphins remained in first place in the AFC East. The young Ravens fell to third place in the AFC North.

"For the first time, we regressed," coach Brian Billick said. "It's always tough to lose, but we didn't get better today. This young group made a lot of mistakes. We need a day off."

The Dolphins, who scored one touchdown in each of Lucas' first three starts, mounted two touchdown drives to take a 17-7 halftime lead.

Baltimore failed to convert its first seven third-down situations and never threatened a comeback. Jeff Blake threw an interception that led to a Miami field goal, totaled 127 yards passing and was constantly harried.

The Ravens' score came when they surprised Miami by throwing deep on fourth-and-1. The gamble paid off with a 28-yard touchdown from Blake to Travis Taylor.

But even with All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis back after missing five games with a partly separated left shoulder, the Ravens gave up scoring drives of 88, 61, 43 and 82 yards.

"We made some mistakes," Lewis said. "This is the kind of game where we'll watch the film and say, "What were we thinking?' on some plays."

Miami's Ricky Williams tied a team record with his fifth 100-yard rushing game. He had 102 on 26 carries and scored from 2 and 4 yards.

Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison said he and the Ravens exchanged words, and "Billick says, "Y'all are winning this game now, but how does it feel not to have a ring?' He said, "Sam, do you want to see my ring? It's the closest you'll ever get to it.' "

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