Heap recaptures familiar role in Ravens offense - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Heap recaptures familiar role in Ravens offense

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Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap breaks free of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Corey Mays. left, and scores in the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009 in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Rob Carr) Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap breaks free of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Corey Mays. left, and scores in the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009 in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - Todd Heap had Baltimore fans doing a double-take last Sunday, trying to figure out who that No. 86 was catching all those passes for the Ravens.

After all, it had been a while since the former first-round pick had the type of performance that made him a two-time Pro Bowl tight end and the team's career leader in yards receiving and touchdown catches.

Heap essentially disappeared into the training room in 2007. Slowed by a severe hamstring pull, he played in only six games and had 23 catches.

He started all 16 games last year, but instead of using his hands to catch passes, he tucked them into his chest and blocked for quarterback Joe Flacco. Heap finished with 35 catches and never had a game with more than 58 yards receiving.

In the Ravens' 38-24 victory over Kansas City, Heap have five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. He converted three third downs, creating a revival of the once-familiar "HEAAAAP!" chant at M&T Bank Stadium.

"Obviously, it felt good," Heap said. "I've always had pretty high expectations for myself, and I feel like when there's a play that needs to be made, I want to be the guy to make that play. I think the biggest thing was that Joe and I were able to get on the same page."

Flacco set career highs in passes (43), completions (26) and yardage (307). On the quarterback's biggest day in the pros, the Ravens also ushered Heap back into a prominent role in the passing attack.

"He had a great game, made some big time catches," Flacco said. "It's awesome to have a tight end who can make some plays for you like that."

Heap caught a 14-yarder on third-and-8 to set up the Ravens' first touchdown; a 17-yarder on third-and-10; a 10-yarder on third-and-8; a 9-yard touchdown catch on a third-and-8; and a 24-yarder to set up the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

Just like old times.

And there could be more to come against San Diego on Sunday.

"I think what it does is give him confidence," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "I don't care who you are. If you're not playing the game with confidence, then your talent only goes so far. Right now he's back in the mix, and Flacco is really finding him on some big possessions. Heap, one thing he can do, is run and catch the ball. We know that. Getting him back in the mix really helps our offense out a great deal."

The Ravens often used their no-huddle attack, and as a result ran 90 plays.

"It felt like I was back in high school," Heap said. "Once we saw the personnel out on the field that we liked, something we thought we had good matchups in, we just stayed after them."

Derrick Mason, now the go-to receiver in the Baltimore offense, was delighted to see Heap receive an ample share of the action.

"With Todd, when the play is called for him, he always seems to make it," Mason said. "Whether that's going to translate into more catches for him this year, I don't know. But anytime we've needed Todd to make a play for us, he's made it."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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