Ravens not sharp, but get job done

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The same formula that won a Super Bowl for the
Baltimore Ravens got the defending champs back into the playoffs.

Combining a stout defense with a run-oriented offensive attack,
the Ravens struggled past the Minnesota Vikings 19-3 Monday night
to earn a berth in the postseason as an AFC wild-card entrant.

Baltimore (10-6) will open the playoffs Sunday on the road
against the Miami Dolphins. The New York Jets will play at Oakland
on Saturday in the other AFC game next weekend.

Terry Allen ran for 133 yards on 23 carries, and the Ravens
forced four turnovers and held Minnesota to 179 yards in total

"We played great defense, we ran the ball well," Baltimore
coach Brian Billick said. "That's a great combination going into
the playoffs."

It's precisely the technique the Ravens employed in running the
table in the playoffs last season as a wild-card team.

"When you play good defense and run the ball, that'll get you
into the playoffs," Billick said. "Sounds familiar, doesn't it?"

The Vikings (5-11) were 0-7 on the road and playing with
third-string quarterback Spergon Wynn, but the Ravens couldn't pull
away until Jamie Sharper scored on 8-yard fumble return with 1:37
left after Peter Boulware's fourth sack of the night.

"Offense wins games, defense wins championships," Ravens
linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Just ride us, baby, we'll get you

Baltimore's victory eliminated the Seattle Seahawks from the
playoff hunt. Seahawks quarterback Trent Dilfer, who took the
Ravens to the Super Bowl last season, led a late Seattle charge
that ultimately came up short.

Elvis Grbac struggled for much of the season as the replacement
for Dilfer, the first quarterback to be supplanted after winning
the Super Bowl. Grbac entered the game with 18 interceptions, 15
touchdown passes and an unsightly 71.9 quarterback rating.

He wasn't much better against the Vikings, going 10-for-27 for
160 yards as the Ravens' offense struggled against a team that had
allowed 84 points in its last three games, all of them losses.

Baltimore couldn't score a touchdown on offense, but did manage
four field goals by Matt Stover.

Minnesota was playing its first game under interim coach Mike
Tice, who took over for Dennis Green on Friday. Although the
Vikings scored first, they never added to their first-quarter field

"I thought we had open receivers we didn't get the ball to,"
Tice said.

About the only good thing about the game for Minnesota was that
it marked the end of a dismal season.

"We just couldn't find a way to win," said wide receiver Randy
Moss, who had only two catches for nine yards. "I can't pinpoint a
part of the season where things went wrong. From day one in
training camp to today, a lot of things happened."

None of it good.

Wynn went 13-for-29 for 86 yards and two interceptions. Cris
Carter, playing perhaps his final game with the Vikings, had five
catches for 60 yards. The 15-year veteran has been vague about his
plans for next year.

"They have a lot of weapons with Cris and Randy," Lewis said,
"but we set the foundation and did what we had to do to get the
ball back to our offense."

A bit of trickery helped the Vikings take an early 3-0 lead.
Five plays after Moss completed a 25-yard pass to Carter, Gary
Anderson kicked a 26-yard field goal.

The Ravens tied it on the ensuing drive, moving 77 yards before
Stover kicked a 21-yarder on fourth-and-1 from the Minnesota 3.

Minutes later, after Carter lost a fumble on the Minnesota 45,
the Ravens failed to get into the end zone on six straight plays
inside the 5 -- including three cracks from the 1 -- and had to
settle for a 20-yard field goal and a 6-3 lead.

The Vikings had a chance to take the lead late in the first half
when Dale Hellestrae, playing his first game with the Ravens,
bounced a snap to punter Kyle Richardson.

Richardson couldn't get a handle on the ball and finally just
pounced on it, giving Minnesota a first down at the Baltimore 10.

But Wynn immediately threw an interception on a pass to Moss in
the end zone, and Brandon Stokley turned a short pass into a
46-yard gain, setting up a field goal as the first half expired.

Game notes
The Ravens' win left the AFC and NFC tied at 30 wins apiece
in interconference play. ... Carter's catch from Moss was his
1,000th with the Vikings over 12 seasons. ... It was the final
regular season game for Ravens DT Tony Siragusa, who will retire
after this season. ... Boulware's four sacks gave him the AFC lead
with 15.


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