Sharpe puts up, so there's no need for him to shut up


Raven sets record for yards by tight end, passing club's Newsome

Ravens 26, Titans 7

October 08, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

It's a rare day when someone shuts down Shannon Sharpe. It's even more rare when someone shuts him up.

The Tennessee Titans failed on both accounts yesterday.

Sharpe caught three passes for 57 yards, making him the NFL's career leader in receiving yardage at the tight end position with 8,018, passing Ravens senior vice president of football operations Ozzie Newsome, who held the old mark with 7,980. Afterward, Sharpe let Newsome, and the Titans, hear about it.

"I went up and told him, `Ozzie who?' " Sharpe said he told Newsome after catching a 13-yard pass in the second quarter from Elvis Grbac to break the record. "Actually, it's been great to have the opportunity to break one of his records."

As for the Titans, Sharpe wasn't as gracious.

"We take it personally when they talk about us with the hard hat, the lunch pail and how classless we are," Sharpe said. "You don't have to like our style, but at some point you have to give us credit for being a damn good football team."

Punt miscommunication

Long snapper Joe Maese and punter Kyle Richardson said it was simply a miscommunication that allowed Titans defensive back Donald Mitchell to fly in untouched and block a punt with 1:00 left in the third quarter. Mitchell scooped up the punt and returned it 26 yards for the Titans' only touchdown of the day.

"We just need to be accountable and know where everyone is supposed to go," Richardson said. "Sometimes, you're going to have breakdowns, but you have to understand they happen, correct them and make sure they don't happen again."

Maese said the Ravens use different protections, sometimes blocking a man and sometimes a zone, but he wasn't exactly sure how Mitchell slipped through. "After we look at the film, we'll definitely see what went wrong," Maese said. "Whatever happened, we'll get it corrected."

Thomas, Webster step up

There may have been some concern on the Ravens' part when defensive end Rob Burnett had to come out of the game early with a calf injury, but reserves Adalius Thomas and Larry Webster held their own in Burnett's absence. Thomas even dropped into coverage on one play in the third quarter, picking up Eddie George coming out of the backfield and preventing him from making a catch on third-and-one.

"I always tell myself I'm one play away from starting," Thomas said. "That's what happened today. Overall, I think I did pretty good. If someone goes down and I have to replace them, it's my job to not be the weakest link, and I don't think I was the weakest link today."

Mixed emotions

The mood in the stands was somber at halftime, as Ravens fans watched President Bush's speech informing Americans that the United States and Great Britain had begun bombing Taliban targets in Afghanistan. Most of the 69,494 in attendance stood in silence as Bush delivered the news, then cheered when his speech was over.

"It's a terrible mixture of emotions," said Ravens fan Tony Shucosky. "We were at Cal Ripken's final game last night, and it was the same kind of feeling. You're up and down and trying to continue life as normal, but you know it's not, and it never will be again. Still, I think this is what people were waiting for."

Most of the Ravens didn't hear about the bombing until halftime, which had an effect on at least one Raven. Webster's younger brother, Alvin, who attended the game yesterday, is an active member of the Army.

"He was here for the game, but I don't know if he got a call saying he had to go [to Afghanistan]," Webster said. "He might have been called. I need to get out of here and find out."

Woodson out-foxes Titans

Rod Woodson isn't easily fooled. The Titans looked as if they might connect on a big play with 12:07 left in the game, trying a halfback pass by backup Mike Green on third-and-one from the Ravens' 43-yard line. Titans receiver Kevin Dyson looked open for a moment, but Woodson came swooping in to make an interception, the 59th of his career.

"I'm the free safety on that play, and I saw the guy running wide-open," Woodson said. "He threw it up there, and I was there."

The big hit

Blaine Bishop said he didn't do it on purpose, but its hard to argue with the replays. They show that Bishop, flagged for roughing the passer in the second quarter, left his feet, tucked his body and uncoiled before smashing the crown of his helmet against the left side of Grbac's.

"I asked the ref what I had done, and he said I hit my head to Elvis' head. I said I hit him with my forearm," said Bishop, a four-time Pro Bowl pick. "I'm not a dirty player. I know it wasn't a late hit."

When told what was on the replay, which likely will elicit a fine from the league, Bishop said: "Elvis got up laughing, so I didn't hit him very hard."

Rolle tests are negative

Tennessee cornerback Samari Rolle, who tied for the AFC lead last season with seven interceptions, suffered the second injury of his career after a second-period collision with Ravens fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo.

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