NFL saves Monday slot for Ravens

Called-off game against Vikings now set for Jan. 7

Modell: `I think it's great'

First `MNF' show here in 23 years will be regular-season finale

September 19, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Ravens fans, are you ready for some Monday Night Football, after all?

The NFL announced yesterday that the Ravens' called-off game against the Minnesota Vikings will remain a Monday night affair and has been rescheduled for Jan. 7.

The decision comes as a mild surprise, since there had been speculation that the game would be moved to Saturday night.

The final game of the regular season will mark the first time in 23 years that Baltimore will be the stage for Monday Night Football.

All Week 2 NFL games were scratched last week after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, and the Ravens backed the prevailing sentiment around the league to reschedule the contests and keep a 16-game season.

In discussions on how to rearrange the Ravens' Monday night game, ABC had a major influence on whether to broadcast it on Saturday or Monday.

"They stated a preference for Monday, which makes us elated," Ravens owner Art Modell said. "It's three months later, but it's still Monday night. I love it. I think it's great."

Baltimore has not had a team showcased on Monday night since Nov. 6, 1978, when the Colts beat the Washington Redskins, 21-17, at Memorial Stadium. The city, which has played host to five Monday night games, was the site of the second-ever Monday night game, back in 1970.

Before their season finale, the Ravens will make the 5-year-old franchise's Monday night debut on Nov. 12, when they play at the Tennessee Titans.

They will later travel to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Monday Night Football game of sorts. The first-ever meeting with the Bucs will be played on Saturday, Dec. 29, because Monday night is New Year's Eve.

Eight days after that, Monday Night Football will make its long-anticipated return to Baltimore.

"To have a Monday night game for the city of Baltimore is a good thing," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "That was one of the things I was lamenting, personally, having been around the city this last year, and what this means to them. This is important.

"Whether people around the country appreciate that or not, I don't know. But I know this is important to the fans and to the city of Baltimore, so that being maintained is nice."

Celebration over the Monday night game was intertwined with some justified paranoia.

The Ravens could be in a tight situation if, after playing Monday night, they have to regroup for a playoff game the following Saturday - a span of just five days.

Last year, the NFL avoided such a scenario by scheduling the AFC's fourth seed to play on Sunday because the Titans were ending the season on that final Monday night and had a chance of falling to that spot. But the Titans routed the Dallas Cowboys to earn a first-round bye, making the point moot.

"I've got to rely on the good graces of the league to not put us in the position to play on Monday night, then turn around and play on a Saturday," Billick said. "I doubt that they would have done that to Tennessee. I'm not so sure they won't do that to us.

"From a competitive standpoint on the potential for it, we're no more at risk than anyone who has played on the last Monday night game of the year before."

Sun staff writer Brent Jones contributed to this article.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

Site: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Ravens by 7

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