Headed for front lines, 7 were uniformly ready


Defense sends message wearing army fatigues

LB Brown only casualty

January 08, 2001|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Ravens' defensive linemen didn't just expect a battle, they dressed for one.

All seven linemen wore army fatigues to Adelphia Coliseum. It was meant as a statement.

"We figured if we came in with our fatigues that we would scare them," backup defensive tackle Lional Dalton said. "We wanted to tell Eddie George we were coming to war."

Mission accomplished. The Ravens extended their streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher to 35 games, limiting George to 91 yards on 27 carries (3.4-yard average).

The linemen decided to buy their outfits Friday after practice. They didn't spare any expense, acquiring camouflage shirts, pants and hats.

"It was more of us clowning around," defensive end Rob Burnett said. "We're going to get after it, regardless. Whether we wear fatigues or we come in here with dresses on, we're still getting after it for 60 minutes. It's just showing solidarity among the D-line."

Coach Brian Billick doesn't have any plans to become part of the latest trend on his team.

"It's not exactly a fashion statement," Billick said. "Maybe that's all they could afford."

Trainer's room

The Ravens' only reported significant injury was to linebacker Cornell Brown, who strained his hamstring. A run-stopping specialist, Brown hurt himself 10 minutes into the game on punt coverage.

He needed to be helped off the field by teammate Brad Jackson and did not return.

"He couldn't generate a whole lot of power," trainer Bill Tessendorf said. "It's day-to-day."

Porous punting unit

Kyle Richardson was not the happiest man in the team's locker room. The punter had consecutive attempts blocked in the second and third quarters by Chris Coleman, a rookie out of N.C. State.

Richardson also had a punt blocked by Denver in the wild-card game, and said that the blocks on consecutive attempts and in consecutive games were a first.

"I've never been a part of a team that had that happen to it," Richardson said. "The odds are against you when that happens, and it's pretty remarkable [that the Ravens won]. I guess it's our year."

Coleman's first block set up the Titans at the Ravens' 25-yard-line with 1:46 left in the first half, but struggling Al Del Greco missed a 45-yard field-goal attempt.

The Titans were in business at the Ravens' 27 after the second block, which set up Del Greco's 21-yarder midway through the third quarter.

"I have to look at the film and see what happened," Richardson said. "I felt like I was off in good time. I only know that on the second one he [Coleman] came up the middle."

Coleman followed that path on his first block, too.

"Obviously, it's a good scheme as far as blocks were concerned," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "We elected to keep doing it until they [the Ravens] fixed it, and they fixed it the third time. But they did not get a fix the second time."

Said Coleman: "It was just a good call by [special teams] coach [Alan] Lowry. It was sort of the same scheme we ran against them when we played them here at home."

Coleman said the scheme calls for he and Terry Killens to shoot the same gap between the guard and the center. If both break through, it forces the upback to choose a player to block.

"He took Terry both times and I came scot-free," Coleman said. "I only wish the ball had bounced in a different direction and we could have scored off both of them."

Overtime for defense

Burnett needed medical attention late in the game. He had gotten poked in the eye, but the assumption was that he was suffering from cramps, an expected byproduct of the fact that the Ravens' defense spent two-thirds of the game on the field.

The Titans had an outrageous advantage in time of possession, as they held the ball for 40 minutes, 29 seconds, compared with 19:31 for the Ravens.

"I'm tired, but I've been more tired than that," Burnett said. "We were in for 93 snaps against the Jets three weeks ago, and that was good preparation for this."

In another corner of the locker room, strong safety Corey Harris asked free safety Rod Woodson if he were tired.

"Man," was the brief response from the elder statesman of the secondary.

play the game."

Backing Del Greco

Del Greco must believe he's caught in an Edgar Allan Poe tale whenever the Titans meet the Ravens.

Del Greco, who missed an extra point early and a 43-yard field-goal attempt that would have won the game on the final play when the teams last met, had two kicks blocked yesterday and also missed a field-goal attempt from 31 yards.

It was unfathomable for a kicker who had made 10 of 11 attempts since missing that 43-yarder, including his last seven in a row. He made five field goals, three longer than 40 yards, in a win in Philadelphia on Dec. 3.

"I never remember missing three in a day," Del Greco said. "I have never thought of that, much less had it happen."

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