My buddy Goob, one of the many Ravens fans that made the trip, giving LP Field a proper B’More salute.
- Total Yards: Ravens 285 Titans 210
- Rushing Yards: Ravens 132 Titans 47
- Matt Stover misses a 45-yard field goal
- A controversial call by the officals extends Tennessee’s game-winning drive
- Despite being dominated, Titans win, 13-10
- Total Yards: Titans 391 Ravens 211
- Rushing Yards: Titans 116 Ravens 50
- Rob Bironas misses a 51-yard field goal
- A controversial non-call by the officals extends Baltimore’s game-winning drive
- Despite being dominated, Ravens win, 13-10
How’s that for a bit of cosmic justice? The universe righted itself in Nashville on Saturday evening, as the Titans and Ravens played what was nearly an exact mirror image of their previous 2008 meeting, right down to the final score. As a result, the Baltimore Ravens’ most improbable of seasons continues next week in the AFC Championship Game.
The Ravens came out looking like a team that had never had a bye week. They appeared tired and lethargic, missing tackles on defense and sputtering on offense, as the Titans jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their 2nd drive. That possession was a 65-yarder that featured a 37-yard swing pass to Chris Johnson, who juked Bart Scott like he was standing still, on the very first play. Johnson capped it off by scoring what would be the Titans’ lone TD of the day on an 8-yard run.
You read that right. Despite putting up 391 (!) yards of total offense, the Titans would only find the end zone once; thanks to a Ravens defense that decided that damn ball belongs to them, thank you very much. After embarrassing the NFL’s #1 team in terms of turnover differential last week, the Ravens fleeced the #2 Titans to the tune of 3 turnovers, 2 fumbles and an interception, every one of which came in the Ravens’ red zone.
Kerry Collins had a pretty good day, all things considered, but his ill-advised, off-balance, back-foot toss that Samari Rolle hauled in at the 9-yard line was pretty awful. That pick was particularly demoralizing for Tennessee, due to the fact that that particular drive had started on their own 1 yard line, and they had narrowly avoided the safety twice.
On the “damn that turnover hurt” meter though, that one was probably registered the lowest of the three.
LenDale “Stupid Fat” White’s fumble with 36 seconds remaining in the first half denied the Titans the chance to go into the locker room at halftime with a slim lead. Perhaps the most crucial turnover, though, was Alge Crumpler’s. Crumpler, who caught the game winning TD pass in Week 5, got blown up by Jim Leonhard and Bart Scott simultaneously just 6 yards from paydirt. The ball went a-flyin, and Fabian Washington covered it up on the 1, protecting the Ravens slim 10-7 lead with just 9 minutes to go.
Bironas was eventually able to tie the game at 10, but the 4:23 showing on the clock was just enough for Joe Cool to get to work and lead the Ravens to the win.
Aside from his 2 deep connections, a 48-yard threading of the needle to Derrick Mason for the Ravens’ only TD of the day, and a 37-yard floater that Mark Clayton bailed him out on, Flacco had another so-so performance. He was just 11/22 for 161 yards and the TD, but he again protected the ball wonderfully, and has now gone 3 straight games without giving up the rock. And he was good when it was most crucial, going 2-for-3 for 31 yards on the final drive. That included a 23-yard hook up with Todd Heap (who had dropped one earlier) on 3rd-and-2, a play that will surely have Tennessee and their fans steaming for years.
The play clock appeared to expire about a half-second before Flacco snapped the ball, yet no flag came. The fact of the matter is, that happens ALL THE TIME. Hell, it happened to the Titans in the first half. We’ll chalk this one up to more of that cosmic justice, retribution for the ticky-tack flag on Terrell Suggs for roughing the passer in the first meeting.
Matt Stover was true from 43, and the Ravens once again ended the Titans’ season in the Divisional Round, on the shores of the Cumberland River.
Along with the turnovers and the non-call, there was one other huge break that went the Ravens’ way. Chris “Stupid Fast” Johnson, who had already racked up 100 total yards of offense, didn’t play another snap after about the 5-minute mark in the 2nd quarter. CBS never showed us the play where it occurred, but Johnson evidently tweaked his ankle. And Thank God(‘s linebacker?) for that. If Johnson had played the whole game, I’ve a feeling this recap would have quite a different tone.
We’re not complaining. We’re certainly not apologizing. Those kinds of things go your way when you’re in the midst of something special.
It’s a beautiful week in Baltimore, as our Cinderella Ravens now have a date in Pittsburgh for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
Drink it up, Ravens faithful. Festivus Maxiumus is one W away.