Matchup: Ravens pass offense vs. Titans pass defense

January 02, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Each day this week, The Sun will preview matchups for tomorrow's Ravens-Titans playoff game.

The prevailing thought is that if the Tennessee Titans shut down Ravens record-setting running back Jamal Lewis, they will likely advance.

But Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher cautioned against that theory this week, saying his team is wary of Ravens quarterback Anthony Wright and his ability to throw the ball downfield.

However, after throwing for 319 yards and four touchdowns against Seattle in Week 12 and for 177 yards and two scores a week later against San Francisco, Wright has regressed in the past couple weeks.

Last week, he repeatedly underthrew receivers against the Pittsburgh Steelers, going 16-for-27 with one interception. He has six interceptions in the past five games.

For the season, Wright was 94-for-178 for 1,199 yards, with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The Ravens' passing attack, taking a back seat to its top-ranked running game, was ranked last in the NFL, averaging 141.3 yards a game.

"The stats are misleading," said Fisher. "[Wright] has made a number of plays and he can make plays downfield when given the opportunity."

Wright's favorite target since he took over as starter from injured rookie Kyle Boller has been Marcus Robinson. Emerging as a deep threat, Robinson had 31 catches for 451 yards and six touchdowns in the regular season.

Travis Taylor was second on the team in receptions (39) and yards (632), and tight end Todd Heap led the team with 57 catches and 693 yards.

All season, the Ravens, facing eight men in the box designed to slow Lewis, have been dared to win the game on the outside, and that will be no different tomorrow.

First and foremost for the Ravens is keeping the Titans' standout pass rushers, Kevin Carter and Jevon Kearse, under wraps.

The Titans, who generally bring safety Tank Williams close to the line of scrimmage, playing just one safety (Lance Schulters) deep, were ranked 30th in the league against the pass, allowing 225.4 yards game.

The Titans' cornerback tandem of Samari Rolle and Andre Dyson have a penchant for making big plays, however. Rolle, recognized as one of the league's best cover men, was tied for fourth in the league with six interceptions, and Dyson had four, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

"We've played against some of the best duos in the league," Taylor said. "We've played against Patrick Surtain, Sam Madison [Dolphins]; Charles Woodson, Phillip Buchanon [Raiders]. We've had our challenges, and Samari Rolle and Dyson is another one. We'll have our hands full, but at the same time, we're capable of doing it."

Tomorrow: special teams.

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