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Ravens Open New Home With A Bang


It's hard to determine who had more fun at the opening of Baltimore's new football stadium -- the Ravens or their fans.

Jim

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  • Harbaugh directed two scoring drives in his Baltimore debut and the Ravens inaugurated their lavish stadium Saturday night with a 19-14 exhibition victory over the Chicago Bears.

    "It's good to be home -- and it's a nice home," Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said.

    A sellout crowd of 65,938 showed up for the grand opening of the $220 million stadium, a brick and steel masterpiece standing adjacent to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The yet-to-be-named stadium features wide concourses, 55 concession stands, two 25-by-100 foot television screens and a lovely view of the city from the upper deck.

    Harbaugh made sure the fans paid some attention to the action on the field, although he had a difficult time focusing on the game plan.

    "I found myself looking around at the screens, the crowd and the purple seats," Harbaugh said. "It was incredible."

    The Bears proved to be perfect guests in the exhibition opener for the teams. Chicago managed only one first down and seven net yards in the first half and didn't score on offense until the final minute.

    "It's hard to believe that ... we can come out here tonight and be as soft and incompetent blocking people as we were," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It looked like their motors on their defensive line were running a lot faster than our offensive line."

    Harbaugh, obtained in an offseason trade from Indianapolis, went 10-for-13 for 60 yards and scrambled twice for 28 yards. He left with 6:07 left in the second quarter after moving the Ravens 80 yards in 17 plays in a drive that consumed more than 11 minutes and gave Baltimore a 9-0 lead.

    "We were kind of playing little ball," Harbaugh said. "We'll try to get the ball downfield more, but we took what they gave us."

    The Bears, meanwhile, finished with only nine firt downs and 13 rushing yards. Chicago closed to 9-7 in the third quarter on a 56-yard interception return by Andre Collins, who took the ball down the right sideline after picking off a pass by Eric Zeier that skipped off the hands of Errict Rhett.

    The Bears, who were without holdout running back Curtis Enis, scored their other touchdown on a 1-yard run by quarterback Steve Stenstrom after the game was already decided.

    Edgar Bennett, making his debut with Chicago, gained two yards in four carries and Ronnie Harmon lost two yards in four carries. Starting quarterback Erik Kramer was 3-for-7 for 24 yards.

    "With a performance like that, you're going to lose every time," Chicago offensive tackle James Williams said.

    "The sad thing is I don't think we got a fair evaluation of Edgar Bennett or Ronnie Harmon or our receivers or even Erik because they didn't have a chance," Wannstedt said.

    Matt Stover kicked two field goals for the Ravens, who went 0-4 in the preseason last year with Vinny Testaverde at quarterback. Zeier threw a 19-yard TD pass to rookie Patrick Johnson midway through the fourth quarter to make it 19-7.

    The Ravens scored on their opening drive, moving 36 yards in nine plays before Stover scored the first points at the new stadium with a 46-yard field goal.

    Harbaugh, who went 2-for-3 and ran for 14 yards in the drive, wasn't so lucky the next time the Ravens got the ball. His third-down pass struck an official and was intercepted by Chicago's Walt Harris, who returned the ball seven yards to the Baltimore 31. Two straight sacks took the Bears out of field goal range.

    Baltimore went up 9-0 with a methodical drive in which Harbaugh went 8-for-9 and ran for 14 yards. After Harbaugh threw five straight completions, Jay Graham scored from the 2.

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