Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Baltimore Ravens smash their way forward against Tennessee Titans

Ravens kicker Matt Stover, center, and teammates celebrate his 43-yard field goal with 53 seconds left, the winning points in Baltimore’s 13-10 victory over the Titans.

Associated Press

Ravens kicker Matt Stover, center, and teammates celebrate his 43-yard field goal with 53 seconds left, the winning points in Baltimore’s 13-10 victory over the Titans.

NASHVILLE — The image that will be replayed from Satur­day's AFC division playoff game is Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis smashing into Titans fullback Ahmard Hall near the sideline during the second quarter. It's the kind of collision that forces you to look away, an intersection of violence that sent Hill's helmet, and the football, flying out of bounds.

But the reason the Ravens beat the Titans 13-10 to advance to the conference championship game at either Pittsburgh or San Diego next Sunday is because their defense didn't lose their helmets or their heads.

Despite giving up 391 yards and being outplayed by the Titans offense for most of the game, Baltimore's second-ranked defense forced three turnovers in a bend-but-don't-break performance that was as much about will as skill.

"We were able to keep them out of the end zone. Our motto is 'They're not in until they're in,' " Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata said. "They only got in once, and it was good our defense was able to be poised and not crack."

It also helps having rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, who has treated the playoffs like a playground. Flacco led a 51-yard drive in nine plays to set up Matt Stover's winning 43-yard field goal with 53 seconds left. Flacco became the first rookie quarterback to win two playoff games.

"You read his eyes and you go, 'Does anything faze this guy?' " Ravens tight end Todd Heap said. "That's the way he's been all year. People have been asking me, 'Is he going to be different in the playoffs. Is this going to be too big for him? How are things going to change?' I just simply say, 'They're not.' He's been the same way since the first day he came in, since the first day of minicamp, since training camp. (He) just exudes confidence throughout the huddle."

When the Titans weren't busy beating themselves — with two fumbles and an interception in scoring territory — Flacco needed just three big plays to knock out the AFC's top seed.

He heaved a 48-yard bomb to receiver Derrick Mason for a touchdown; hit Mark Clayton for 37 yards to set up a tying field goal; and converted a critical third down on the final drive with a 23-yard pass to Heap.

Saturday's game brought back haunting memories for the Titans. Eight years ago, they were 13-3 and had homefield advantage throughout the playoffs when the Ravens upset them on their way to the Super Bowl.

"Trust me, it was physical," Lewis said. "I was here in (January 2001) and it was physical then. Both ballclubs are built kind of similar. The same way. That's why the game came down to what it was."

"You think I feel good right now?" Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "This is a difficult loss for this team (and) the fans. There was a great deal of hope and excitement. There's nothing I can tell them in that room that can make them feel better right now."

Titans quarterback Kerry Collins passed for 281 yards. But he was intercepted once and running back LenDale White and tight end Alge Crumpler each lost fumbles.

"The bottom line, as long as they don't get in the end zone, everything else takes care of itself," Lewis said.

Ravens 13

Titans 10


From unemployed

to superstardom

. The Steelers' James Harrison was cut three times. Who knew he would become the 2008 defensive player of the year? 3C

Chargers AT Steelers

4:45 today, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

TV/radio: Ch. 10; 1010-AM

Line: Steelers by 6

Baltimore Ravens smash their way forward against Tennessee Titans 01/10/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 12, 2009 5:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Orioles Buck Showalter's Trop takedown includes bullpen mounds, bathroom options, bladder problems


    Orioles manager Buck Showalter has never been a fan of the Trop, and after Monday's 5-0 win he — with some prodding from O's TV man Gary Thorne — took a few more shots during their MASN interview, specifically about the location of the bullpen mounds, and the lack of bathroom facilities.

    Orioles manager Buck Showalter has never been a fan of Tropicana Field.
  2. What a perfect USF football season would and wouldn't mean


    TAMPA — USF held its first fall practice Monday. A mere technicality. It's mind-bending how many people think that USF, sure to be ranked in the preseason Top 25, is going to throw down a 12-0 regular season with the schedule placed before it. This from a team that has never won a conference championship in its …

    The hiring of Charlie Strong, shown here, cente,r with USF president Judy Genshaft and athletic director Mark Harlan during his introductory press conference non Dec. 15, 2016, is one of several reasons for the Bulls' high football expectations this season.  [ JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
  3. HomeTeam 100: Players 31-40


    Wesley Chapel High School running back Dexter Leverett (6) runs the ball past Hudson High School offensive linebacker Cody Sutphin (8) during the second half at Wesley Chapel High School in Wesley Chapel, Fla., on Oct. 8, 2016. Wesley Chapel won the game 39 to 34
  4. Florida Gators' 2018 recruiting class cracks top 10


    While I was out on vacation, the Florida Gators apparently picked up their recruiting.

    By a lot.

  5. Five undrafted rookies to watch in Bucs training camp


    Rookies report today for Bucs training camp, with veterans joining in Thursday and the first practice Friday morning, and with HBO's "Hard Knocks" chronicling this year's camp, there's always an interest in the underdog storyline of undrafted rookies trying to make the 53-man roster.

    Bucs linebacker Richie Brown, an undrafted rookie trying to make Tampa Bay's roster this preseason, is shown during last year's St. Petersburg Bowl after he recovered a fumble for Mississippi State.