Ravens speak volumes on Tenn. crowd noise

Adelphia Coliseum noise, sack-happy Kearse figure to be tough combination

Ravens Vs. Titans

January 05, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' offensive line wants to silence Tennessee's sack-happy Jevon Kearse as well as 67,000 of his biggest supporters.

The Titans' sold-out Adelphia Coliseum, considered by most Ravens as the loudest site visited this season, will be an extra headache for the linemen's communication and focus on Sunday. To prepare for the deafening atmosphere, the Ravens piped in pre-recorded crowd noise and kept it blaring for 20 minutes in their practice at PSINet Stadium yesterday.

The Ravens were quite vocal on this point.

When asked about the Titans' top weapon on defense, Ravens right tackle Harry Swayne said, "Crowd noise. That's all I worried about is crowd noise."

But Swayne is going to be lining up on Kearse, who has 8 1/2 sacks in his past seven games. Did he want to change that answer?

"Trust me. You didn't believe my first answer?" the 14-year veteran said. "It's very loud. It's probably as loud as Kansas City in years past."

The Ravens remember feeling mentally drained after their 24-23 victory there because of the crowd noise.

It's the timing of the Titans' fans that separates them from other crowds. They are quiet when Tennessee's offense is on the field and then crank it up when the Ravens have the ball, kicking it up a notch on third downs.

"They're smart," Ravens right guard Mike Flynn said. "They know how to peak. They're just football fans and it shows."

The decibel level isn't a product of Adelphia's structure.

It isn't a dome. It isn't even enclosed on either end.

"They might have some hidden speakers somewhere," Swayne said, "because it's loud in those open ends, too."

Besides blocking out the noise, the Ravens have to find a way to block out the Titans.

The Ravens have allowed 10 sacks on 92 passing attempts against Tennessee this season. In the Ravens' 15 other games this season, they gave up more than three sacks only three times.

"I know it's got to be better," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of the pass protection against Tennessee. "It's going to be tough to beat them if we give up five sacks again."

Said Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe: "We got to keep Trent upright. We got to protect Trent. If Trent gets protected, he's going to make the throw. I have that kind of confidence in him."

The Titans have recorded 55 sacks this season and ranked second in the league in sacks per passing play.

"I can't put it on one thing," Titans safety Blaine Bishop said. "That's our style, whether we're playing the Bengals or the Ravens. Our style is to put a lot of heat on the quarterback. It's a hit-or-miss defense. Either we get to the quarterback or the receiver has a chance to make a big play."

But it's not Tennessee's blitzing that bothers the Ravens, it's the constant stunts up the middle. The Ravens are also wary of the Titans' speed off the edges.

Kearse jump-started his season with three sacks in the last meeting with the Ravens. He beat Swayne twice and left tackle Jonathan Ogden once.

"Last game, Jevon Kearse stepped it up," Billick said. "He blossomed that game. Where prior to that, he had not [had] the same impact. So clearly, his presence is going to make a difference and [is] something we have to account for."

Still, the noise seems to be the first obstacle for the Ravens' offensive line.

"It's difficult," Flynn said. "That crowd noise kind of gnaws on you after awhile. It's definitely a factor."

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