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Jonathan Ogden might have had a worse day during his nine-year career as the cornerstone of the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line, but not many.
It was Dec. 19, 2004, in the RCA Dome, and Ogden, arguably the NFL's premier offensive left tackle, had no answers for the speed and relentlessness of Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney.
It was a rare one-on-one mismatch for Ogden. On this particular day, the eight-time Pro Bowl selection was no match for Freeney, the blossoming right end who got to Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller for two sacks and six pressures.
"It was definitely one of my better games," Freeney said after Wednesday's practice at Union Federal Football Center. "I was just on.
"Some games you're on, some games you're not as on, you're a little bit off."
Ogden was more than a little off. He yielded only one sack in his other 11 starts in 2004 and, excluding the Ravens' 20-10 loss to the Colts, has given up only nine in his past 59 games.
The rematch comes Sunday night in the season opener for the Colts and Ravens at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. It's one Ogden eagerly awaits.
"It's a good test to see where I'm at for the first game of the season," he told the Baltimore media. "You'll know where you stand early. That's the way I'm approaching it this week. You're just jumping into the deep end of the pool."
Contributing to Ogden's unlikely performance last season were knee and hamstring injuries that forced him to miss a career-high four starts. Ravens coach Brian Billick attributed some of Freeney's success to home-field advantage. Freeney benefited, he said, by playing on Astroturf, which accentuated his speed, and with the crowd noise slightly delaying Ogden's ability to get out of his stance and deal with Freeney's burst.
But neither Billick nor Ogden discounted the role Freeney's ability played in the constant assault on Boller.
"I saw a tremendous player in Dwight Freeney playing at the top of his game and as dynamic a presence on the outside rush as there is in the game," Billick said.
Ogden has been required to deal with many of the NFL's premier pass rushers during his 136-game career, including Bruce Smith and Simeon Rice. He rates Freeney among the top five or six.
"He can spin without really stopping," he said. "He never stops moving his feet."
While last year's game clearly wasn't one of Ogden's shining moments, he insisted he wasn't as inept as it might have appeared.
"I had what I considered a bad game by my standards," he said. "But it wasn't a horrible game like everyone thinks."
Freeney obviously has the knack for making even the best left tackle appear substandard. He led the NFL in 2004 with a club-record 16 sacks and his 40 career sacks are the third-most by a player in the first three years of a career.
Baltimore and Ogden simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time. After a slow start -- seven sacks in the Colts' first 11 games -- Freeney cranked his sack game into overdrive in December. He had three against both Tennessee and Houston before getting to Boller twice.
"Hopefully I can continue that little string I had going," said Freeney, a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
Whether he's going against Ogden or a less-heralded player makes no difference to Freeney.
"Same game for everybody," he said.
The Colts' pass rush could play a key role in Sunday's game. It was tied for third in the league a year ago with 45 sacks with Freeney and Robert Mathis (101/2) serving as catalysts. Boller, meanwhile, was sacked 35 times, the most absorbed by a Ravens quarterback in their nine-year history.
Most NFL sacks in 1st 3 seasons
Call Star reporter Mike Chappell at (317) 444-6830.