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OWINGS MILLS — Despite a raucous atmosphere with several jeering football players just a few steps behind him, Maryland governor-elect Martin O’Malley delivered under pressure.
Two days before the Baltimore Ravens’ AFC divisional playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, the outgoing Baltimore mayor connected on a 15-yard field goal at Thursday’s practice with quarterback Kyle Boller holding. O’Malley won a bet with Ravens coach Brian Billick, who will donate $1,000 to the Living Classrooms.
“Our city was never lower than when the Colts left and our city was never more pumped up than when you won the Super Bowl,” O’Malley told the team after his straight-on kicking approach split the uprights. “We’re proud of you. We’re counting on you. We know you’re going to do well. Go win.”
Billick immediately referenced O’Malley’s successful field goal at a practice leading up to the 2000 Ravens’ Super Bowl victory.
“If he had missed, then I could have blamed it on him,” Billick quipped. “He put the pressure right back on us, which was great.”
Plus, O’Malley issued an official mayoral proclamation designating today as “Purple Reign” in Baltimore, congratulating the AFC North champions and encouraging fans to wear purple.
He also noted how much the Ravens mean to Baltimore after the Colts left town in 1984 and the city was without an NFL team for a dozen years.
“The sting is definitely still felt,” O’Malley said of the Colts’ departure. “It’s hard to remember a time when the city was feeling worse about herself and, conversely, never a time that we felt better about ourselves when the Ravens took home the Super Bowl.”
CHAMPIONSHIP BELT: In the locker room after practice, linebacker Bart Scott proudly brandished a metal-plated, purple-and-gold wrestling championship belt emblazoned with the words: “Baltimore Ravens. AFC North Champions.”
It was a gift to the team from James Mackle of Reisterstown. He didn’t asked for anything in return, not even an autograph. Scott joked that he wanted to start a tag team with retired wrestler Nikolai Volkoff, who lives in the Baltimore area.
“We’ll call it ‘Ebony and Ivory,’ and I’ll sing the Star Spangled banner and he can sing the Russian national anthem,” Scott said. “I’m going to defend my title like the tough-man competition. We can call this new league the James Mackle Federation. Ray Lewis and Kelly Gregg can wrestle, and I can be the manager.”
At one point, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs snatched the belt away from Scott and ran away. After returning it, Suggs was incredulous that Scott kept wearing the belt in front of Indianapolis television reporters.
“What are you doing, Bart?” Suggs said. “We’re supposed to be modest and now you’re on TV wearing that.”
PUTTING IT ON THE LINE: The stakes for Saturday’s game extend beyond a berth in the AFC title game. O’Malley and Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson have struck a side bet. Peterson is wagering a steak and shrimp cocktail meal from St. Elmo Steakhouse, an expensive downtown Indianapolis restaurant, while O’Malley is putting a Maryland crab cake dinner on the line.
“After dominating the Chiefs, the Colts are on a roll and our city is behind them all the way,” Peterson said in a statement. “Baltimore is a fine city and the Ravens have a great team with a solid defense. But with all due respect to Martin O’Malley and Ravens fans, I can’t wait to taste some of those famous Maryland crab cakes.”
TRAINING ROOM: Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden practiced for the third consecutive day with a hyperextended left big toe, but his condition will be evaluated during pregame warmups to see if he’s up to speed to block Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney.
“Pain he can deal with,” Billick said of Ogden, who missed the final two regular-season games. “It’s a matter of if he can do his job out there. That’s up to J.O. to tell us at game time.”
The Ravens made no changes to their injury report.
The Colts ruled out wide receiver Ricky Proehl with a hamstring injury.
QUICK HITS: Cal Ripken, Jr. will be the honorary captain on Saturday according to the Ravens…Former Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, who was fired by Billick after six games, interviewed for the Oakland Raiders’ head coaching vacancy…Meanwhile, no team has requested an interview yet with Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, the architect of the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
FINAL WORD: Colts Hall of Fame running back Lenny Moore shook his head in sadness when an Indianapolis Star reporter showed him a Colts media guide with his picture and records inside.
“My name shouldn’t be in that book,” Moore said. “I didn’t play for that team. I was a Baltimore Colt. It’s wrong.”
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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