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Ticket sales running hot and cold

It took 22 minutes for Titans fans to buy the last few tickets to the first AFC division playoff game in Tennessee, but the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints on Wednesday were hoping to avoid television blackouts.

The Eagles had about 6,500 unsold tickets as of Wednesday morning, and the Saints had about 4,500 by late afternoon.

Under NFL rules, teams have until 72 hours before kickoff to sell out their stadium or have their game blacked out locally on television.

The Eagles have until 4 p.m. today to sell their 65,358 tickets for Sunday's NFC wild-card game against the Bucs at Veterans Stadium and avoid a blackout.

About 20,500 tickets were offered for public sale, and about 14,000 sold Tuesday when the box office opened. The Eagles' 55,000 season-ticket holders got first choice for tickets to the matchup that marks Philadelphia's first playoff appearance in four years.

"We've sold a lot of tickets so far, and we're feeling optimistic, but we'll tell you at 4 o'clock tomorrow," Eagles spokesman Ron Howard said Wednesday afternoon.

The Saints, who play the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams on Saturday, have until 3 p.m. today to sell the remaining seats at the Superdome and lift the television blackout.

The last time an NFL playoff game was blacked out was in the 1993 season, a game between Green Bay and Detroit. There have been two blacked out games in the past 16 years. The other was a 1992 playoff game between Houston and Buffalo.

The Dolphins had 13,000 tickets left Wednesday night and received an extension from the league until 12:30 today to sell out. The Dolphins play the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.

In Nashville, Tenn., Titans fans purchased the last 4,256 tickets for the game against either Baltimore, Denver or Indianapolis at the 68,498-seat Adelphia Coliseum on Jan. 7. Season-ticket holders had purchased the rest of the tickets, and the Titans had scattered single tickets left 12 minutes after the ticket office opened.

Those were gone 10 minutes later.

"It's a credit to the organization, a credit to our great fans," Titans ticket director Marty Collins said.

The Minnesota Vikings put about 2,000 tickets on sale Dec. 21 for their Jan. 6 playoff game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. As of midafternoon Wednesday, about 150 remained, mostly single tickets with obstructed views.

BRONCOS: Coach Mike Shanahan said quarterback Brian Griese's sore shoulder has improved but he likely will hold off on any decision about Griese's playing status for Sunday's wild-card game against the Ravens until Friday at the earliest.

"He took a few snaps each period," Shanahan said after practice, which was closed to the media. "He's better than I thought he'd be. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to take any reps throwing, so that was encouraging."

Griese, the NFL's leading passer, separated his throwing shoulder against Oakland on Nov. 13 and missed the next five games. He returned to the lineup for the regular-season finale, a 38-9 win over San Francisco on Saturday, but reinjured the shoulder.

Receiver Travis McGriff is listed as questionable because of an ankle sprain in warmups Sunday.

DOLPHINS: Wide receiver Leslie Shepherd, cornerback Terrance Shaw and fullback Rob Konrad are listed as questionable for Saturday's playoff game against Indianapolis because of injuries.

Shepherd had arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee Dec. 5. He returned to practice Tuesday on a limited basis but was held out of practice Wednesday.

Shaw had arthroscopic knee surgery last month. Konrad has a back injury.

GIANTS: Tiki Barber, the team's leading rusher, vowed to be in the lineup Jan. 7 for an NFC semifinal game despite having a broken left arm and sprained big toe on his right foot.

"It's football. You play with injuries; you play when you are sick," said Barber, who wore a brace on the arm.

Barber broke a small bone in his arm in the fourth quarter of New York's win over Dallas on Dec. 17.

RAMS: Quarterback Kurt Warner, who received a concussion in the regular-season finale, said he had been headache-free for two days and would start Saturday's wild-card game against the Saints.

"I feel good. I feel real good," Warner said.

Warner missed all but one series in the second half of the Rams' playoff-clinching 26-21 victory over the New Orleans on Sunday. He said he has no health worries headed into the rematch and didn't appear groggy or lightheaded in an extended session with reporters.

Also, coach Mike Martz thanked Chicago Bears counterpart Dick Jauron "about 40 times" Wednesday for the upset that put the defending Super Bowl champions in the playoffs.

Martz telephoned Jauron three days after Chicago's 23-20 victory knocked the Detroit Lions out of the post-season.

RAVENS: Defensive lineman Rob Burnett was asked if he thought the Denver offensive line used dirty tactics.

"Of course," Burnett said. "It's that old San Francisco leg-whip stuff. There might be some retaliation. I'm not saying anything, but we stick together, so don't be surprised.

"We're not going to take it. They have one time. They get one shot."

Many in the league think the Broncos' undersized line compensates by using illegal blocks.

"It's the same thing this week that it is every week," Broncos right guard Dan Neil said. "They can complain all they want. It's legal."

_ TIMES WIRES

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