Ravens focus on peaking, not peeking

Beating Bills trumps scoreboard watching

December 31, 2006|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

Despite their players wearing all-black uniforms for the first time this year, the Ravens' season finale won't be a total blackout.

Team officials said there are no plans to censor two pivotal games - the ones involving the San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts - on the scoreboards at M&T Bank Stadium today.

Both games will start at 4:15 p.m., the same time the Ravens (12-3) look to sew up a top-two playoff seed against the Buffalo Bills (7-8).

"The only scoreboard we need to watch is our own," receiver Derrick Mason said. "Right now, we must seal the deal. We have to go out and beat Buffalo. If we don't, all that we've done in the past 16 weeks wouldn't mean anything. We got to think of this game as being pivotal ... "

If the Ravens are winning, the critical game to watch is the heavily favored Chargers against the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens can take hold of the AFC's top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if they win and the Chargers lose.

If the Ravens are losing, the attention shifts to the Indianapolis Colts playing the Miami Dolphins. The Ravens would drop to the No. 3 seed if they lose and the Colts win.

Ravens coach Brian Billick said he will not talk about scoreboard watching with his players because their goal is clear-cut. The Ravens know they will finish no lower than a second seed (and receive a first-round bye) as long as they beat the Bills.

"If we take care of business, we're going to have a good deal of time to sort [everything] out," Billick said.

The Ravens have never been this close to securing a first-round bye in their 11-year history.

Despite the unfamiliar territory, the Ravens' veterans know the incentive for winning a fourth straight game.

"Rest, a lot of rest," quarterback Steve McNair said. "I think that's what we all need at this point of time. It would help us recuperate and push forward at the end and give that strong finish."

The Ravens decided recently to change up their look for the finish, when players asked Billick if they could wear the black jerseys and pants. Their record with the alternate uniforms is 2-1.

"We've had some fond memories with the black uniforms, and that's something the players can tap into," Billick said. "I know the fans will be into it, and it's a nice way to charge the energy up for the last game."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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