Over the course of an hour, Tony Siragusa went from a stretcher to shock trauma to stuffing the run again.
The Ravens' defensive tackle suffered a bruised spinal cord four minutes into the game and was carted off the field. Once in the locker room, he walked around before asking, "What do I have to do to get cleared to play again?"
Siragusa was shuttled to the University of Maryland Medical System shock trauma unit, where a magnetic resonance imaging and X-ray both came out negative. The 11-year veteran was back on the field with 51 seconds left in the first half as the fans chanted, "Goose."
But Siragusa, who was a major factor in holding the Tennessee Titans to 90 yards rushing, didn't know what his future would be when he first was injured. Siragusa sustained the mild bruise when a collision with Titans fullback Lorenzo Neal jolted his head back.
"In 33 years, that was the most scared I've ever been," said Siragusa, who realized immediately he wasn't paralyzed when he could squeeze the trainers' hands on the field.
"You always see people out there and read about them, but it's your own self. All of a sudden, things start flashing through your mind, family and stuff like that. Fortunately, I came through and was able to get back out there."
Siragusa's return didn't inspire the defense alone.
Said receiver Qadry Ismail: "For him to come back like that shows you so much guts and character."
But why did Siragusa risk coming back?
"I guess I didn't want my boys to have all the fun out there," said Siragusa, sporting a bloody cut across the bridge of his nose. "A lot of guys play with pain, and there are a lot of guys on the team I owe a lot to. I just wanted to get out there and fight."
Out of focus
Not only did it seem that the Ravens were on the wrong page, but they were also on the wrong snap count. They committed four false-start penalties in their last 11 series.
"It seemed that we weren't focused enough," left guard Edwin Mulitalo said. "I don't know if it was just being tight about the game or playing for the lead [in] the conference. We have to get better at stopping mental mistakes."
Said left tackle Jonathan Ogden: "We have to be more efficient. Everyone has to know the snap count and concentrate."
While the Ravens may not know who their starting quarterback will be, they realize that they have to protect him better. They allowed a season-high five sacks and have given up 11 sacks in the past three games.
The Ravens struggled against containing the Titans, who are known for putting eight men close to the line of scrimmage.
"The biggest thing that they do is they try to man you up across the board, to where everybody has to hold one-on-one," coach Brian Billick said. "There are not a lot of ways to help."
For a team without a touchdown for the past four games, the Ravens haven't been in a rush to get there. The Ravens were also flagged for their seventh delay of game this season, which is tops in the NFL.
Ravens quarterback Tony Banks attributed the false starts to his audibles.
"I changed a couple of snaps from later to sooner," Banks said. "And a couple of guys didn't hear it."
Herring does his part
Despite the offensive problems, the Ravens' defense has set up its teammates. Safety Kim Herring had a forced fumble and an interception that gave the Ravens possession at the Titans' 39- and 34-yard line.
"We're satisfied, but we lost," Herring said. "So, how [much] satisfaction can we get out of that?"
Another option at QB?
The Ravens showed a new wrinkle when receiver Jermaine Lewis took a direct snap and completed a shovel pass to running back Priest Holmes in the first quarter. The Ravens practiced the play three times last week. It didn't go without a hitch, though.
"I didn't think the center could hear me say `hike,'" said Lewis, who hadn't thrown a pass since high school. "So it was delayed and the ball got snapped and they had a lot of people coming off the edge. I was just trying to make a play. I saw Priest had the whole outside open, so I just tried to flick it to the outside."
Coming up empty
Titans coach Jeff Fisher was incredulous that cornerback Michael Booker allowed Ismail to get behind him on the Ravens' desperation, fourth-down pass for the end zone in the final two minutes. Ismail caught a long pass from Trent Dilfer, but was ruled out of bounds on the play.
The Ravens' replay challenge was rejected.
"I saw it the way it was ruled," Fisher said. "I couldn't believe we allowed someone to get behind us, knowing we were defending the 10-yard line. It looked to me that part of the foot came down out of bounds."
Said Booker: "I was seeing the ball and thinking pick. I jumped up and reached for it and he caught the ball. I thought he was out. Next time, I'm just going to basketball-pick him."
Banks: No basket case
Once again, Banks handled his post-game interviews with dignity. This, he said, isn't as bad as what he experienced in St. Louis.