Greeted team looks to return the favor


Get-together with fans urged

R. Lewis fined for McNair hit

Mulitalo better

Pro Football

January 16, 2001|By Paul McMullen and Jamison Hensley | Paul McMullen and Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

As the Ravens pile up postseason wins and their fans go to great lengths to greet them, coach Brian Billick keeps raising the notion of an organized acknowledgment of the team's backers. The Ravens are exploring the feasibility of an Inner Harbor rally Friday afternoon, after they practice at PSINet Stadium.

"It is our intention that somewhere during this week [the Ravens] provide a platform for the city, the fans, this team, to get together," Billick said.

For the second straight week, Billick and his players were amazed at the reception they received upon their return to Baltimore after a playoff win on the road.

While several thousand invaded Baltimore-Washington International Airport after the Ravens' win at Tennessee, tighter airport security led more than 1,000 to park along Owings Mills Boulevard in the wee hours yesterday, just to glimpse team buses as the Ravens returned to their training complex and completed their journey home from Oakland.

"Again, it was gratifying to round off the freeway onto Owings Mills Boulevard, and see the cars backed up and the throng of people, in the cold, at 3:30 in the morning," Billick said. "Kids and old people. I also noticed a number of crushed beer cans. They kept warm in a lot of different ways."

As is usually the case, tight end Shannon Sharpe had the last word on the fan situation.

"Unlike the Raiders' fans," Sharpe said, "our fans have jobs and have to get up and go to work in the morning."

R. Lewis fined $7,500

Ray Lewis has been fined $7,500 by the NFL for a tackle of Steve McNair in the AFC divisional playoff. The league ruled that the Ravens' middle linebacker hit the Tennessee quarterback high with his helmet.

"I play the game like the game is supposed to be played," Lewis said. "I play the way I was fundamentally taught to hit people. You hit people, you wrap them up and take them to the ground. If you do that to anybody else in the league, you don't get a fine, but they're protecting quarterbacks. But if a quarterback tries to run you over on third-and-one, he's a hero.

"You can't win. It doesn't matter. If that changed the momentum of the game, hey, if I get another fine, I get another one."

Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa sent Rich Gannon out of Sunday's game in the second quarter when he pressured the Oakland quarterback and fell on him after an incomplete pass. Siragusa scoffed at the notion that he, too, could get hit with a fine.

"I'll take it to the Supreme Court," Siragusa said. "I don't expect a fine at all."

Mulitalo `a lot better'

Left guard Edwin Mulitalo, who received a concussion on the game's second play Sunday, expects to resume practicing when the team reports back Thursday. He underwent memory tests yesterday and didn't complain about any serious lingering effects.

"I feel a lot better," Mulitalo said. "I think this rest will be good for me.

"I really don't remember much from Sunday. Everything is like a blur, a hazy dream. I keep telling myself even though I didn't play the entire game, I was still a part of it."

Reserve offensive tackle Spencer Folau joined the Ravens a day late in Oakland, after his wife, Heather, gave birth Friday to their first child, daughter Hannah.

Game ball for Vickers

Mulitalo's concussion forced Kipp Vickers to play the rest of the way at left guard. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Vickers pulled out and helped Priest Holmes gain 11 yards and a key first down on third-and-nine.

Billick gave Vickers a game ball, and said his performance was typical of the way the Ravens have reacted to adversity.

"Edwin Mulitalo, in a championship game, goes down, Kipp Vickers comes in," Billick said. "He had not played much guard, and he plays virtually the entire game. He played incredibly well, and that's what this team is about. Something happens, the next guy steps up and says, `Let's go.'"... Championship teams have examples of that all the time. The character of this team, in that regard, that's exactly why we're standing here."

Game balls also were awarded to linebacker Jamie Sharper (nine tackles, two sacks) and cornerback Duane Starks (two interceptions) for defense and punter Kyle Richardson for special teams.

Layoff to aid Herring, Brown

To rest up after consecutive road trips, the Ravens will have light workouts Thursday through Saturday before heading to Tampa, Fla., on Monday. The extra week leading up to the Super Bowl will increase the playing chances of injured Ravens strong safety Kim Herring (bruised ankle) and linebacker Cornell Brown (hamstring).

"We're very optimistic for the game itself," Billick said. "How much they'll do this week, we'll see. I would anticipate the following week a lot of activity by them."

Kicking himself

Even 11-year veteran kicker Matt Stover got caught up in the emotions Sunday, caroming a usually automatic 36-yard field-goal try off the right upright.

"I was a little geeked up," said Stover, who is 164-for-177 (92.7 percent) inside the 40 during his regular-season career. "I didn't handle it too well. I went out there, sped up a little bit too much and left it out wide right."

Stover, though, finished by hitting field goals of 31, 28 and 21 yards.

End zone

"Report from the Ravenszone" will air live from PSINet Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. on Channel 13. Tickets to the program are sold out. ... The Ravens have allowed only one touchdown in three playoff victories and none in seven quarters. ... Jermaine Lewis has averaged 26 yards on three kickoff returns in the playoffs. ... The Ravens have outscored their playoff opponents 31-3 in the second quarter.

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