Sharpe, Swayne fight for right to brag


Both players have won 11 postseason games in row

January 11, 2002|By Jamison Hensley and Brent Jones | Jamison Hensley and Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The winner of Sunday's wild-card game will give history-making bragging rights to either Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe or Miami Dolphins backup offensive tackle Harry Swayne.

As teammates on the Ravens and Denver Broncos from 1997 to 2000, Sharpe and Swayne have 11 straight postseason victories, tying Herb Adderly for most consecutive postseason wins in modern NFL history. But with Swayne in Miami, only one will win his 12th in a row and set the mark.

"I'm trying to get the upper hand," Sharpe said. "I figure if I could wipe Harry away, I'll have the lead by myself. So, Harry, you have to go down."

Swayne, the starting right tackle for the Ravens' Super Bowl champions last season, had his job handed to Leon Searcy. When Searcy went down with an arm injury in training camp, Swayne re-gained his starting position for two weeks. The Ravens released a struggling Swayne at the end of August.

The Dolphins picked him up after a rash of injuries at left tackle.

Healthy backfield

For a rare time since the second half of the season, the Ravens will have their backfield healthy and in game shape.

There was speculation that Terry Allen's injured ribs might slow him down, but the team expects Allen to be fine by Sunday's playoff game against the Dolphins.

Jason Brookins returned in Monday night's win over the Minnesota Vikings for the first time since breaking a bone in his foot six weeks earlier. The work Brookins got during that game, one in which he admits to being rusty, should help him Sunday, though Allen will carry much of the rushing load.

"Terry is going to be the guy that we are looking to," offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said. "If Terry needs a blow, particularly down there in mid-afternoon where it's going to be hot, then we will put Brookins in."[Allen's] got a couple more days. He's feeling better every day. It's something that they can keep treating. At this point, I'm not concerned."

Brookins, the bigger back, could be the one the Ravens turn to inside the 5-yard line. He failed to score a touchdown on four attempts inside the 3-yard line against the Vikings, but is expecting a different result this week.

"We worked on it a lot [yesterday] in practice," Brookins said. "Hopefully we'll clear things and get a couple of those balls in the end zone.

"You could tell in practice, I was flying around out there. I was a couple of steps faster than everybody else because I had been off for such a long time. Hopefully all the rust is gone and I can come back and contribute like I was contributing before I broke my foot."

Road trip?

If Ravens fans are looking for a little adventure this weekend, guard Edwin Mulitalo has a suggestion.

Take a road trip to Miami and take over Pro Player Stadium because there are plenty of seats left.

The game will not be televised throughout South Florida because the Dolphins failed to sell out 72 hours before kickoff. As of yesterday, the team still had 16,000 tickets available. It is the second straight year the Dolphins have not sold out their playoff game in time to lift the blackout, though they have sold out every regular season game the past three years.

"It doesn't matter too much," Mulitalo said. "If it's 20,000 people [who aren't] going to be there, I don't know if I can tell the difference between 80,000 and 60,000 people screaming. Unless we have 20,000 people go down there."

S. Taylor on injured list

The Ravens placed linebacker Shannon Taylor on injured reserved and signed tight end Jonathan Burrough from the practice squad to the active roster. Taylor dislocated his left shoulder against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 16, then re-injured it Monday night against Minnesota.

Safety Martavious Houston was signed to the Ravens' practice squad. Houston is a first-year free agent out of Auburn. He spent two seasons in the CFL and was on the Redskins' practice squad this season.

Long history

While this is only the third meeting between the Ravens and Dolphins, Cavanaugh and Miami coach Dave Wannstedt have a long history.

When Cavanaugh quarterbacked the University of Pittsburgh to the 1976 national championship, Wannstedt was an assistant for that team. And when Wannstedt coached the Chicago Bears from 1993 to 1998, Cavanaugh served as offensive coordinator for two seasons.

End zone

Nickel back James Trapp (groin) did not practice. End Rob Burnett (calf) and Mulitalo (calf) practiced and should play Sunday.

"James, we're not real optimistic about," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Rob, I don't know how much he'll do [yesterday] or [today] but come game time, we're pretty optimistic. To my knowledge, he's fine." ...

At East Tennessee, Ravens defensive assistant Mike Smith was a teammate of Tom Buchanan, the farmer from Rich Valley, Va., who is a finalist on the television series, Survivor.

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