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OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis joined the second-guessing chorus, wondering aloud about the wisdom of coach Brian Billick calling three consecutive passes late in the fourth quarter of a 19-14 loss Sunday to the Buffalo Bills.
Quarterback Kyle Boller threw three consecutive incompletions, starting on 2nd-and-1 at the Bills’ 49-yard line with 1:59 remaining in the game. Baltimore never touched the football again.
"It was as frustrating for you as it was for me," Lewis told a caller Monday during his weekly radio show. "As far as decisions, you have to let Willis McGahee touch the ball on one of those plays. We knew he should have touched the ball when you have a fourth-and-one.
"Old-school football is old-school football. If there is a yard I need to get, there is a running back, a fullback and an offense that is meant to get that."
Billick acknowledged Monday that he should have ran the football on either third down or fourth down, saying it would have been a more prudent decision.
â€œThereâ€™s frustrations and I donâ€™t know that heâ€™s not right,â€ said Billick on Tuesday night as he responded on his own weekly radio show. â€œI donâ€™t know I agree [with Lewis about running the ball] on the second-and-one and third-and-one. I definitely agree on the fourth-and-one call. I certainly donâ€™t find any fault with Ray being honest and straight-forward."
It’s unclear, though, if McGahee was 100 percent to run the ball since he had left the game earlier in the half due to dehydration that prompted him getting intravenous fluids.
Lewis, who admitted being frustrated while emphasizing that those emotions won’t cause problems in the locker room, took his criticism of Billick a step further. He referenced Billick’s decision to throw the ball in the red zone toward the end of the Ravens’ season-opening 27-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
"You can’t make oranges be peaches, it doesn’t change, it will never change," said Lewis, who didn’t speak to reporters Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "That’s what Billick has to ask himself, why we keep putting ourselves in those situations. In the Cincinnati game, that cost us with those same decisions."
At 4-3 heading into the bye, Billick told the players to not point fingers in frustration.
â€œThere is a lot of things to be frustrated [about] –the offsides, letting them get down the middle of the field, the fumble,â€ Billick said. â€œThere are a lot of things that are going to affect the outcome of the game that we want to address, and the play-calling is one of them. I have to constantly analyze what I am doing and I have no problem with what Ray said."
NOTES: Heading into the bye, the Ravens’ defense now ranks second in the NFL, allowing 268 yards per contest behind the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 250.3 average. Baltimore ranks second against the run and seventh against the pass. … Offensively, Baltimore ranks 17th overall, but 26th in yards per play and 28th in passing net yards per play. Baltimore is 29th in the league in red-zone efficiency with a 30.4 percent conversion rate. … Running back Willis McGahee ranks second in the NFL in rushing with 639 yards. … Wide receiver Derrick Mason leads the league with 56 catches and first in third-down receptions with 20 catches. However, he’s 12th in receiving yardage with 529 yards.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.