BALTIMORE (AP) -- Finishing second-best was fine with Jamal Lewis, who was delighted to at least get the chance to run his way
into the NFL record book.
Lewis fell tantalizingly short of breaking Eric Dickerson's
single-season record for yards rushing, in part because he was
limited to five yards on eight carries after the third quarter.
Earning the distinction of AFC North champions earlier in the
day, the Ravens won on a 47-yard field goal by Matt Stover with
11:32 left in the extra session.
Lewis ran for 114 yards on 27 carries to finish the season with
2,066 yards rushing -- 39 yards short of Dickerson's mark of 2,105,
set in 1984.
"I'm not disappointed," Lewis said. "The opportunity was
there, and we went at it. My line, they blocked well. It was in
reach but we didn't get it. I think second is good."
The result became meaningless when the Cincinnati Bengals lost
to Cleveland earlier Sunday, clinching the division for the Ravens
(10-6). Division champs for the first time in franchise history,
Baltimore will open the postseason Saturday at home against the
Tennessee Titans (12-4).
Because the game meant little to the Ravens, no one would have
blamed Ravens coach Brian Billick for saving Lewis for the
playoffs. But the starters played to the end.
"I am surprised Coach left me in the game," Lewis said.
"This is the Pittsburgh Steelers," Billick said. "You can't
cheat the game, you can't cheat the fans."
Lewis reached the 2,000-yard mark with seven minutes elapsed,
had 73 yards after the first quarter and 109 yards after three
But he gained only 2 yards on six carries in the fourth quarter
and got 3 yards in overtime to finish with the second-best rushing
season in the history of the league.
"I didn't even want him to get to 2,000," Pittsburgh
linebacker Joey Porter said. "He got the big runs early, so he got
the 2,000. But we wasn't going to let him get the overall record.
He got some yards, but he didn't get the record."
The only other players to reach 2,000 yards in a season are:
Barry Sanders (2,053 in 1997); Terrell Davis (2,008 in 1998); and
O.J. Simpson (2,003 in 1973, a 14-game season).
Dickerson was shown on television after the game holding up a
handmade sign that said: "19 years and counting."
The Steelers (6-10) are done for the year after losing in
Baltimore for the first time in seven games since 1996. Had
Pittsburgh stuffed Lewis early in the game, the result might have
"The first couple of series, he was running very well,"
Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said. "Once we made some adjustments
in the second quarter, I felt like we pretty much had him in
Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis ran for 54 yards to move past Jim Brown into sixth on the career list with 12,353. Tony Dorsett ranks
fifth with 12,739 yards.
"It seems like every week he's passing somebody," Cowher said.
"He's a Hall of Fame running back, there's no question about it."
Lewis gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead with a 25-yard touchdown run in
the first quarter. But Pittsburgh tied it in the third quarter when
Chris Hope scored an 81-yard pass play from Josh Miller on a fake
With the score tied at 10, Stover missed a 52-yard field goal
try with 46 seconds left in regulation and teammate Wade Richey was
short on a 51-yarder as time expired.
Lewis, who had never run for 100 yards against the Steelers, had
4 more yards in the first quarter than he gained in the opener in
He started the night needing 48 yards to make it to 2,000. Lewis
reached the number -- exactly -- with a 9-yard run midway through the
first quarter. Then he rambled 25 yards for the touchdown on the
next play to pass Simpson and Davis.
There was no fanfare after the 9-yard run; the only
acknowledgment of the feat was that the ball was removed from the
game. But Lewis received a lengthy standing ovation after the
touchdown, when it was announced he surpassed 2,000 yards rushing.
Lewis finished the season leading the NFL in total yardage from
scrimmage with 2,271 yards.
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