Double threat McNair gets brunt of attention

Ravens have to contend with legs, as well as arm

Ravens' pass defense vs. Titans' pass offense

January 04, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens have set their sights on Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair.

Confident of controlling Titans running back Eddie George for the fourth straight time, the Ravens believe Tennessee must rely on McNair to make plays.

The sixth-year veteran was the difference in the Titans' 14-6 win over the Ravens on Oct. 22. With Tennessee behind 6-0, he finished off a late first-half drive by eluding the rush with a scramble before hitting Rodney Thomas for a 9-yard touchdown pass.

It nearly happened again in Tennessee's 24-23 loss to the Ravens on Nov. 12. After the Ravens' go-ahead score, McNair found Eddie George for an 11-yard gain and then scrambled 20 yards to the Ravens' 25-yard line. Only Al Del Greco's missed field goal let that comeback slip away.

McNair has engineered three late-fourth-quarter comebacks this season. His last came in Philadelphia, where he had earlier twisted his knee and ankle.

Trailing 13-12 with 1:43 remaining, he led the Titans on a six-play, 37-yard drive with no timeouts that ended with a Del Greco 50-yard field goal as time expired.

The Ravens, who have sacked McNair just once this season, need to apply pressure and force him into making hasty decisions. He has thrown 13 interceptions among 396 pass attempts.

Once known as a scrambler, he has developed into a quarterback who, given time, can beat teams from the pocket.

His 62.6 completion percentage and 83.2 quarterback rating is the best of his four years as a starter. He can still move, as well, rushing 71 times this year for 404 yards (5.6).

McNair's unpredictability extends to his pass distribution. He has completed passes to at least six receivers in a game seven times this season.

The Ravens have contained McNair for the most part this season. Against them, he is 32-for-55 passing for 329 yards and three touchdowns.

The Ravens have to apply more consistent pressure while not giving up running lanes. They have watched McNair run 11 times for 67 yards.

In short, if they want to silence the Titans, they have to make it a quiet day for McNair.

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