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Grbac starts slow, finishes accurate

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Baltimore Ravens used their standard
formula for success -- with a twist.

The Ravens opened defense of their Super Bowl title Sunday with
a performance reminiscent of last season, smothering the Chicago
Bears' offense and getting just enough production from a
one-dimensional attack in a 17-6 victory.

Last year, Baltimore's offense relied heavily on its running
game. This year, with the addition of Elvis Grbac and the absence
of injured running back Jamal Lewis, it appears the Ravens will be
passing for points.

Operating with little backing from the running game, Grbac went
24-for-30 for 262 yards. His first touchdown pass with Baltimore
came with 1:48 left in the third quarter, a 6-yarder to Sam Gash
that gave the Ravens their first lead, 10-6.

"You've got to do whatever you do best, whatever it takes to
win," Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "That's the
way we're going to be. We could do a lot worse than that."

Terry Allen, signed to replace Lewis in the Baltimore backfield,
gained only 37 yards on 20 carries and lost a fumble. Baltimore
managed only 54 yards rushing, and the futility was exemplified
when Obafemi Ayanbadejo was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from the
Chicago 31 in the fourth quarter.

But the Ravens won anyway, their 12th straight victory since
Oct. 29.

"It's a similar result, but with a different method,"
Ayanbadejo said. "We had Elvis slammin' it today. Early last year,
(quarterback) Tony Banks was slammin' it, but as the year went on,
we relied on Jamal more and more."

And, as always, the Ravens depended on their defense.

Chicago managed only two field goals and made three first downs
in the second half. James Allen, the last player to run for 100
yards against Baltimore (in 1998) had only 43 yards on 21 carries.

"Our philosophy is, if they don't score, they don't win,"
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "We'll give up a field goal here
or there. But when they get into the red zone, we knew we had to
buckle down and that everything would fall in place."

Shane Matthews went 24-for-39 for 138 yards but threw two
interceptions, both in the final six minutes.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," Matthews said. "They're a
tremendous football team. We had our chances; we just didn't put it
in the end zone when we should have."

With Baltimore up 10-6, Jamie Sharper tipped a pass that was
picked off by Lewis, who went 21 yards to the Chicago 35 with 5:24
left. After Grbac completed a 25-yard pass to Patrick Johnson,
Terry Allen scored from the 1.

"Anytime you get a win under your belt, you'll take it any
which way," Grbac said. "Obviously, we have a lot of room for
improvement. To put your defense out there for as much as we did in
the first half, we have to improve on that to repeat."

Chicago held the ball for 21 minutes, 36 seconds of the first
half and limited Baltimore to 14 yards rushing but had to settle
for a 3-3 halftime tie.

The seven-man crew of replacement officials included five who
attended college in Illinois. In the second quarter, referee Joseph
Rider left his microphone on for three plays, shutting it down only
when attempting to announce two penalties.

"I think the answer I'm supposed to give, for the purposes of
fines, is that they did OK," said Chicago cornerback R.W.
McQuarters, who was in on 12 tackles.

But the officials had little impact on the game compared to the
Baltimore defense, which allowed one field goal on the Bears'
opening drive and another after Terry Allen's fumble.

The Ravens' opening drive of the second half ended when
Chicago's Bryan Robinson recovered Allen's fumble at the 50. After
a pass-interference call against Rod Woodson wiped out an
interception by Ray Lewis, Paul Edinger kicked a 46-yard field goal
for a 6-3 lead.

Game notes
Baltimore cornerback Duane Starks (knee) was inactive. He
was replaced by James Trapp. ... The Bears have lost four of their
last five openers. ... Terry Allen's rushing touchdown was the 71st
of his 11-year career. ... Although Matthews completed five
third-down passes, the Bears converted only four of 15 third-down
plays, including 0-for-7 in the second half. ... Baltimore's
defense did not allow a touchdown for the sixth time in its last 10
games.

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