Trent Dilfer didn't record the save, but he may have earned a start.
Dilfer, a seven-year veteran and the Ravens' backup quarterback, stoked the flames of a quarterback controversy in yesterday's 14-6 loss to the Tennessee Titans by nearly rallying the Ravens to a potential game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.
After taking over for starter Tony Banks eight seconds into the fourth quarter, he completed seven of 13 passes for 58 yards. Beyond the numbers, he laid his claim to a starting job on the Ravens' final possession of the game.
Dilfer drove the Ravens 47 yards in three minutes, and his debatable incompletion to receiver Qadry Ismail deep in the end zone could have put the Ravens in position to tie the game. For that reason, Dilfer may have worked himself out of the bullpen.
"For certain people, their role changes," Dilfer said. "Today, there's nothing good about having to come in a situation like that because you're not playing well as a team. It's a tough deal.
"Nobody is rooting harder for Tony than I am. But at the same time, you have to be prepared at the drop of the hat to get the job done. Unfortunately today, I wasn't able to get the save for him. That was my mindset, but it didn't work out that way."
Dilfer deflected any personal opinion on whether he should start.
"That's not my decision," Dilfer said.
The switch to Dilfer, though, dominated Ravens coach Brian Billick's post-game news conference, with seven of the first nine questions concentrating on the quarterback change.
When will the decision be made on the starting quarterback?
"Sometime between now and kickoff next Sunday," Billick said.
How will the reps be divided this week in practice?
"I'll have to decide what that ratio is when I decide what the starter and backup scenario is," he said.
What will Billick specifically look at when deciding?
"Where we are as a team," he said. "Who can get the job done against the opponent we're playing. There are a lot of factors involved."
But Billick seemed impressed with Dilfer's 18 plays yesterday, especially since Dilfer took just six reps Friday.
"Anytime you come in off the bench with limited reps during the week, it's tough to do," Billick said. "They were doing a lot of different things and Trent, to his credit [from] watching from the sideline, was up on them pretty good. But that's difficult to do, to move in, move around, make a call, pick up the blitzes. Without looking at the film, I think he did pretty good."
Dilfer has now come full circle in his career. Last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he had his streak of 70 consecutive starts end when he was replaced in favor of Eric Zeier in Week 7.
Now in Week 8 of this season, Dilfer is the one coming off the bench. So Dilfer, who signed a one-year, $1 million contract this off-season, is very delicate in addressing this situation as an opportunity because he can relate to Banks' misfortune.
"It's a tough deal," Dilfer said. "I've been in his shoes and it's a tough place to be."
Dilfer threw his first pass since Nov. 28 and needed until his third and last series to shake off the rust. He connected with tight end Shannon Sharpe three times for 28 yards and showed some athleticism by scrambling up the right sideline for 12 yards.
He almost put the Ravens in the end zone for the first time this October when he threw a 33-yard pass to Ismail deep in the end zone with 1:20 remaining. The officials, however, ruled that Ismail did not have both feet inbounds, squashing any comeback.
"Trent played exceptionally well, and I think both he and Tony [Banks] gives us what we need," Ismail said. "I think Trent has been in battle before and he's a fighter."
But Dilfer has made it clear that he won't be swept into any controversy.
"I would do everything I can to help my team win and not let my circumstances ever dictate that in any fashion," Dilfer said. "Nothing will change for me this week, regardless of the circumstances we're in. I'll go to work and I'll do everything I can to make this team better."