Over the next week, BR.com will take a look back at the story of the Ravens' 2007 campaign. First, a look at the opening four games of the year.
Week 5 (Oct. 7, 2007): Ravens 9 - 49ers 7
Summary: Three field goals from Matt Stover were all that it took for the Ravens to upend the San Francisco 49ers 9-7. The Ravens racked up 315 yards behind QB Steve McNair's 29-of-43 for 214-yard day, and 88 rushing yards from Willis McGahee (22 carries, 4.0-yard average).
Ravens at 49ers
The Ravens were able to move the ball and hold McNair sack-free thanks to an offensive line of Jared Gaither, Jason Brown, Chris Chester, Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda, a group that featured three rookies, second-year Chester and third-year Brown. Incumbent center Mike Flynn left in the second quarter with a sprained right knee, while left tackle Adam Terry left the game earlier in the same drive with a sprained left ankle.
Adam Terry left the 49ers game with a sprained ankle.
Stover broke a scoreless tie with a 26-yard field goal at the 2:44 mark on that series. After the defense forced a quick punt, McNair executed a perfect two-minute drill that netted a 32-yarder with 10 seconds remaining in the half. Stover added a 49-yard boot in the third quarter that was set up by safety Ed Reed's interception and 21-yard return.
San Francisco's Trent Dilfer pulled the 49ers to within two points when he hit Bryan Gilmore on a 42-yard pass, and then followed that with a 23-yard touchdown strike to Arnaz Battle one play later. With the score 9-7, the Ravens had a 12-play, 63-yard drive stall at the San Francisco 40, giving the 49ers a chance to take the lead with 6:22 remaining. But Baltimore held strong at its own 34-yard line, and kicker Joe Nedney's attempt went wide from 52 yards. McNair then directed a clock-eating, game-ending drive to complete the victory.
Key Stat: Baltimore's defense held the Niners to only 163 yards of total offense, with two plays accounting for 65 of those yards.
They Said: "It was fortunate for us that he missed, but I wasn't really focused on that too much. I had my mind on possible scenarios. If he made the kick, I was thinking what we would do in our hurry-up offense. And if he missed, which he did, I had to think about how we would try to run out the clock." - McNair
Week 6 (Oct. 14, 2007): Ravens 22 - Rams 3
Summary: Matt Stover booted field goals in Baltimore's 22-3 home win over St. Louis, while the Ravens made life miserable for Rams quarterback Gus Frerotte, sacking him four times and nabbing five interceptions. Kelly Gregg also came up with a fumble recovery.
Ravens vs. RamsWeek 6
The Ravens started three rookie offensive linemen and backup quarterback Kyle Boller and only had tight end Todd Heap for one quarter (hamstring). But, the defense limited St. Louis to only 264 total yards, 83 in the first half, and a lone field goal.
Stover tied his own team record for most field goal in a single game, while Willis McGahee, who posted 61 yards on 25 carries, logged his first rushing touchdown as a Raven. Baltimore got rolling when Stover converted from 43 yards at 1:46 in the 1st quarter. Then DT Dwan Edwards caught his first-career interception when Frerotte bounced a pass off wideout Drew Bennett's shoulder pads, leading to a 42-yard field goal.
Another pick (CB Chris McAlister) came on the second play after halftime, which Stover turned into another three points. Jeff Wilkins finally put the Rams on the scoreboard with a 32-yard field goal, but that progress was erased when defensive tackle Justin Bannan sacked Frerotte and forced a fumble that Gregg recovered, leading to field goal No. 4 for Stover. His fifth came after Ed Reed's pick and subsequent 15-yard return.
Key Stat: The Ravens' five interceptions set a new single-game franchise record.
They Said: "We worked hard all week. Today was an opportunity for our front line to get out there and go after those guys. We thought we had some mismatches and on the back end, we thought we could hold up our own." - McAlister
Week 7 (Oct. 21, 2007): Bills 19 - Ravens 14
Summary: Despite missing six starters due to injury and losing center Mike Flynn in the second quarter, the Ravens saw two chances to win fall short in a tough 19-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Ravens at Bills
Buffalo took a 3-0 lead on kicker Rian Lindell's 29-yard FG at 3:51 in the opening quarter and never relinquished control. Lindell added 26- and 35-yarders in the first half before the Ravens got a third-period touchdown on Willis McGahee's 46-yard romp. McGahee, who finished with a season-best 114 yards on 19 carries (6.0-yard avg.), shook one tackler and stiff-armed another en route to the end zone.
McGahee had a 33-yard touchdown run against the Steelers.
The Bills answered with another field goal, and then used a 54-yard pass to receiver Lee Evans to set up a 1-yard scoring rush from Marshawn Lynch. Kyle Boller, who went 21-of-36 for 191, then engineered a 16-play drive to Buffalo's 8-yard line, only to turn the ball over on downs.
Cornerback Samari Rolle got it back when he snared his first interception of the year, stepping in front of another Edwards pass to Evans. Four snaps later, Boller zipped a 15-yard strike to WR Derrick Mason (7 receptions, 78 yards) to pull within five points at the 6:34 mark of the fourth quarter.
But, the Ravens couldn't capitalize on either of their final two possessions, with each series resulting in a punt after three downs.
Key Stat: Boller's 15-yard touchdown to Mason was the first time all season that the Ravens got six points out of a drive starting in their opponent's territory. The previous 10 times resulted in field goals.
They Said: "Yeah, we came up short. You have to give them credit they played well, but we didn't bring our 'A' game. We had a chance at the end, but it was our play the entire game. It wasn't one play here or there, it was the whole game." - Boller
Week 8 (Nov. 5, 2007): Steelers 38 - Ravens 7
Summary: The Ravens lost three fumbles in their own territory in the opening 15 minutes and gave up an interception in the middle of the second quarter en route to a 38-7 drubbing by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ravens at Steelers
The turnovers led directly to four of Ben Roethlisberger's career-high five touchdown passes in a 13-of-16, 209-yard performance. Steve McNair, who had not played in the previous two contests, completed 13 of 22 for 63 yards. On Baltimore's first series, a McNair fumble on the Ravens' 28-yard line set up a Roethlisberger-to-Heath Miller touchdown. Ed Reed fumbled on a punt return, leading to Roethlisberger's 15-yard score to WR Santonio Holmes. Willis McGahee was then stripped by safety Troy Polamalu at the Ravens' 35-yard line, setting up a 30-yard touchdown strike to Nate Washington two snaps into the second quarter.
Four minutes later, McNair again fumbled. It was recovered by McGahee, but the RB was tackled at the 3, and a 3-and-out gave the Steelers the ball at midfield, and Roethlisberger found Holmes from 35 yards for his third touchdown. Roethlisberger got another chance to score following McNair's interception on the next possession. The Pittsburgh signal-caller capped a 44-yard drive with a 7-yard dart to Washington, making the margin 35-0 at 1:51 in the second quarter. T
The Ravens got on the board when McGahee sprinted 33 yards to paydirt just before halftime on a series set up by RB Musa Smith's 52-yard KOR.
Key Stat: The Ravens set the franchise mark for fewest net yards (104) and tied the record for fewest 1st downs (5).
They Said: "It would be hard even if we didn't have two weeks to prepare for them. When you turn the ball over it is kind of hard to get a victory. They scored on every turnover that we had. We dug ourselves into a hole and against a team like that it's just hard to get out of it. They are too good of a defense and they put too much pressure on you." - Mason