Taylor rushed for 151 yards on 13 carries, one of them a 43-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, helping Baltimore beat New Orleans 21-6.
"I should be thanking the offensive line. They were giving me a crease to hit, giving me a chance to look up and see the end zone," Taylor said.
New Orleans could not get in the end zone against the stingy Ravens, settling for two field goals by reserve placekicker Nate Fikse.
The Saints, who stressed stopping the run and covering kicks in practice this week, needed only 20 seconds to elicit boos from the home crowd on both counts. Baltimore's B.J. Sams returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to the Saints 43. And on the first play, Taylor found a huge hole on the left side of the line, cut back to the right and outraced everyone.
"The most important thing for us is just to be ready when we go to Carolina" for the season opener, Saints defensive end Charles Grant said. "One touchdown and the fans go to booing us. That's not called for. No matter what people say, the fans say, the papers say, this is a good football team."
It didn't look that way on Taylor's next run, either -- also Baltimore's next play from scrimmage. He broke free for a 50-yarder, giving him 93 yards on two carries. The Saints saved face on that drive when Boller's deflected pass was intercepted by Grant on the New Orleans 22-yard line for Boller's fourth interception in three games.
Having given up a 40-yard touchdown run in their opener against Seattle and a 49-yarder to New England last week, the Saints clearly have more work to do in that area.
"I was disappointed in the way we tackled," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "All in all, I thought we took a step backward."
But there were some encouraging signs for New Orleans.
Johnathan Sullivan, a No. 6 overall draft pick in 2003 who last season saw his weight keep him out of action, played often. While Sullivan was not in for Taylor's big runs, he played throughout the third quarter, when Baltimore managed only 3 yards rushing. He was in on four tackles, including a sack for a 10-yard loss.
"He was very active. His weight's way down to 310 (pounds) and he has been moving well," Haslett said.
Baltimore finished with 181 yards rushing, although Jamal Lewis didn't play because of a bone spur in his left foot.
New Orleans' first-team offense had only two decent drives in the first half.
Ronald McKinnon was flagged for leading with his helmet when he sacked Boller. The 15-yard personal foul put the Ravens on the Saints 38. Three plays later, Boller narrowly averted a blitz by lofting a sideline pass to Clarence Moore that made it 14-3 as cornerback Mike McKenzie fell down.
"We knew they'd bring pressure and I wanted to take a shot," Boller said. "It was easy. I threw it up and Clarence went up and got it."
Boller finished with 53 yards passing, completing 5 of 11 attempts in one half. Coach Brian Billick deflected blame elsewhere.
"We have to pass block better," the coach said. "When our quarterback is getting the hell knocked out of him, that's not good."
Fikse hit a 48-yarder to close the score to 14-6 at halftime.
Brooks, who left after the first half, was 10-for-20 for 139 yards. New
Orleans had 102 yards on the ground, 33 yards on scrambles by reserve
"The things we did give up were just some miscommunication, but that's football," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who had four tackles. "The important thing is we didn't give up a touchdown."
The Saints suffered a couple serious injuries to reserves in the third
quarter. Tight end Boo Williams tore
both the ACL and MCL in his right knee, likely ending his season.
Alfred Fincherbroke his right wrist trying to assist on a tackle. Also, Haslett said G Jermane Maybery strained his left calf muscle and could miss a couple weeks.
- DB Deion Sanders did not play. CB Dale Carter played sparingly because of tightness in his back, Billick said.
The Associated Press News Service
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