Ravens' odd man out gets even T. Jones, who was traded to make room for Ogden, gets revenge with winner

AFC Championship

January 12, 1998|By Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht | Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

PITTSBURGH -- Happy New Year owner Art Modell and the Baltimore Ravens.

That was part of the message delivered from Denver Broncos offensive tackle Tony Jones to his former teammates and Ravens team owner yesterday following the Broncos' 24-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the American Football Conference championship game.

Jones is now part of one of the best offensive lines in pro football and headed to his first Super Bowl in his 10th season in the league. Jones helped open holes for Denver running back Terrell Davis, who had 139 yards rushing on 26 carries yesterday.

Jones was with the Ravens for the 1996 season until he was traded to Denver for a second- round pick in the 1997 draft. Jones was replaced by Jonathan Ogden, who made the move from left guard and was named All-Pro this season.

"It's been tough and it took me a while, but I finally made it to the Super Bowl," said Jones. "This is the proudest of my 10 years. I would like to thank the Ravens because I wouldn't be here without them. They made a statement saying I was washed up, I couldn't play anymore. But thanks, because now I'm with a team that is going to the Super Bowl and has a good owner. I know I couldn't have made it to the Super Bowl with them.

"I forgive them now and it's time to move on. I'm grateful to God for the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl," he said.

Hebron's claim to home

Broncos running back-kick returner Vaughn Hebron says he is taking back the city of Baltimore from Green Bay Packers receiver Antonio Freeman. Freeman went to Poly and Hebron played at Cardinal Gibbons. They'll play against each other in two weeks in the Super Bowl.

"Freeman owned the city last year, but it's mine now," said Hebron. "I own it and Antonio will know what I mean. Man, this is great, going to the Super Bowl. I can't explain it, but tell everybody back in Baltimore I said hi, especially little Vaughn."

Thigpen adjusts sights

Pittsburgh wide receiver Yancey Thigpen, having already completed the best regular season of his six-year career, distinguished himself yesterday by catching six passes for 92 yards -- both postseason career highs.

"We had a great year, but we didn't accomplish what we set out to accomplish. We did a great job getting this far," Thigpen said. "But really, what do we have now? We don't have a lot to be happy about. It's back to the drawing board, starting from scratch. Our main focus now is on that first game in September."

Scott's costly move

Steelers cornerback Chad Scott was still smarting from the pass interference call that went against him and put Denver in position to take a 17-14 lead late in the first half. Scott and Broncos receiver Rod Smith bumped slightly as Smith cut to the sideline. Elway's incomplete pass appeared to be uncatchable, regardless of the incidental contact.

The penalty cost Pittsburgh 22 yards.

"I thought the call was terrible," said Scott, a rookie who started his collegiate career at Towson State, before transferring to Maryland. "The receivers were making contact with us by pushing off all day, so what are we supposed to do?

"I was getting ready to go back to the huddle [after the play], then I see a flag on the ground. I don't know why the official threw the flag."

J.B. Brown misses out

Another Maryland alum, veteran Pittsburgh cornerback J.B. Brown, saw another close brush with the Super Bowl pass him by.

Brown, a nine-year veteran who spent his first eight seasons with Miami, was on the losing side of the AFC championship game against Buffalo five years ago.

"It gets tougher, especially as you get older," said Brown, who played in Pittsburgh's dime packages. "We had our chances today, but we didn't have that magic that we've had all year."

Footnotes

Fashion sighting of the day: Scores of Steelers fans wore "Salute This" shirts, a mocking reference to the Broncos' touchdown celebration, the Mile High Salute. Denver has lost four Super Bowl games, and during most of those trips, the Broncos went without much of a running game. It will be different this time with Davis. "If you look back at the teams that have won the games, most teams had a running attack," said Davis. "I think with this team we kind of have an NFC mentality and the type of team we have is an NFC type of team." By surrendering 139 rushing yards to Davis, Pittsburgh's defense allowed its first 100-yard rushing performance of the 1997 season. The last opponent to rush for 100 yards was New England's Curtis Martin, who ran for 166 in last year's divisional playoff loss to the Patriots.

Pub Date: 1/12/98

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