With Wright up and down, Titans come out on top

Ravens QB solid at times, but a stalled drive late and 2 interceptions hurt

Titans 20 Ravens 17

January 04, 2004|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Anthony Wright, Anthony Wright's final game of the 2003 campaign was a microcosm of his season.

Mixing flashes of potential with moments of mediocrity, the Ravens quarterback was a factor - but not a significant one - in the team's 20-17 AFC wild-card playoff loss to the visiting Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium yesterday.

Wright completed 20 of 37 passes for 214 yards and lobbed a 35-yard touchdown pass to tight end Todd Heap that tied the score at 17 late in the fourth quarter.

But the fifth-year pro also threw two interceptions - the latter setting up a Titans field goal that gave them a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter - was sacked twice, and ended the game with a passer rating of 57.7.

Still, Wright elected to take an optimistic approach to the team's passing efforts.

"We did well with our passing game," said Wright, who threw just as many touchdowns (10) as interceptions since he took over the starting role on Nov. 16. "We threw the ball, we completed some. You're not going to complete everything, but we threw the ball well, I think."

The Ravens entered last night's contest with the league's best rushing offense behind Jamal Lewis' 2,066 rushing yards.

But Tennessee, which boasted the league's best run defense, placed eight and nine players near the line of scrimmage to stop Lewis, who averaged 2.5 yards a carry last night after averaging 5.3 yards during the regular season.

That put the onus on Wright and the league's worst pass offense to gain yardage. The strategy seemed to work as the Ravens compiled just 96 passing yards through the first three quarters. Wright completed only three passes of more than 10 yards during that span.

Things got worse on the Ravens' first series of the fourth quarter. On first-and-10 from the Ravens' 26-yard line, Wright telegraphed a pass to wide receiver Marcus Robinson, and Titans cornerback Samari Rolle intercepted it at the 30.

Four plays later, Gary Anderson kicked a 45-yard field goal to give Tennessee a 17-10 lead with 9:13 left.

On the Ravens' ensuing possession, Wright seemed to find a rhythm as he connected on five of six passes for 80 yards - 35 of which came on his touchdown pass to Heap on a deep corner pattern that tied the score at 17 with 4:30 to play.

"I felt like we were going to win," Wright said. "This is what we've been doing all year long. I thought the tide was going to turn."

But after cornerback Chris McAlister intercepted Titans quarterback Steve McNair to give the ball back to the Ravens with 3:41 left, Wright bounced a pass to Heap on third-and-three from the 35.

The Ravens punted, and Tennessee marched down the field for a game-winning 46-yard field goal by Anderson.

Wright's teammates said Wright did the best he could under difficult circumstances.

"He made some great plays," Lewis said of Wright. "You have to put this offense on your shoulders. That's what he did."

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