TAMPA, Fla. - All the good was erased for Ravens safety Rod Woodson once Tampa Bay Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott rumbled into the end zone.
Alstott's 32-yard touchdown run with 1:35 left in last night's 22-10 win for the Buccaneers over the Ravens was the team's most explosive play, the longest gain by 17 yards.
The Ravens held the Bucs to 213 total yards. Tampa Bay got the ball in Ravens territory in four of its first six drives, but managed just nine points.
"It doesn't matter," Woodson said. "We could have gotten the ball back one more time for our offense. And quite a few guys, including myself, missed a tackle on Alstott on that last play. When that happens, he's a good back who can make good cuts, and he made a good cut to go back across the field and score.
"We get paid to keep people out of the end zone, no matter what the score is.
"I've said it all year," Woodson added. "Truly, I'm disappointed in the way we played as a team."
Alstott scored his touchdown on a second-and-11 with the Bucs up by six. The Ravens had another timeout left and undoubtedly would have used it had they been able to stop Alstott. He and running back Warrick Dunn combined for 127 yards on 27 carries.
"Baltimore was playing some good defense," Alstott said. "We were just trying to put it down their throats. They're a great defense."
Taking a page from last season's Super Bowl, the Ravens stayed at the same hotel, dressed in the same locker room and played at the same stadium.
The only part that wasn't the same is the Ravens themselves.
Eight of the team's 22 starters are different from the night at Raymond James Stadium in January.
"Last year was last year," Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister said. "We're in Tampa now under totally different circumstances."
Ravens coach Brian Billick, though, admitted he expected to have a few flashbacks when he walked onto the field.
"If you've got to go on the road," Billick said of his team's first away game since Nov. 25 in Jacksonville, "go back to a place where you have some real fond memories."
Although last night marked the first time the Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have played, the teams' head coaches are hardly strangers.
Billick and Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy were on the Minnesota Vikings' coaching staff together under Dennis Green from 1992 to 1995, with Billick serving as offensive coordinator and Dungy as defensive coordinator.
"That was an excellent staff there," Dungy said. "You kind of know when you go up against somebody who has been there, you're going up against a guy who understands how to get ready for big games, and understands how to get their team prepared."
When asked about the Ravens' identity compared to last year's team, tight end Shannon Sharpe said he still considers the defense as the team's strong suit, but that it can't be expected to carry the team, as it did last year.
"In order for us to be successful now, the offense has to play a bigger role," Sharpe said. "When we get the ball, we have to put some points on the board. We have to take chances because we're an integral part of the team's success now."
The Ravens' defense entered last night's game ranked sixth overall in the NFL, the low point of the season. It had given up an average of 17.1 points through 14 games, compared with 10.3 in last year's 16-game campaign.
Left tackle Jonathan Ogden is one of five current Ravens who was part of the team's first three years, when it won just 16 of 48 games. That's why he appreciates being in the playoff hunt in December.
"This is the best," Ogden said. "I've been on teams when December games were not as important. It's harder to keep your focus when you're not playing to get into the playoffs. We don't need Brian or other coaches telling us how important these games are. We know."
Last year, the Ravens clinched a playoff spot in Week 14.
Until we meet again?
The Ravens were attempting to clinch a playoff spot last night. Although the attempt wasn't successful, count Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher as one who wouldn't be surprised if the AFC Central rivals meet in the postseason.
"It's 1-1 right now and maybe it's only fitting that a third game be played," Cowher said. "I know if we do see them, we'll see them in Pittsburgh."