Historical Note: These teams have met in the in playoffs in their past lives. During the 1988 AFC Wildcard Game, the former Titans, the Houston Oilers beat the former Ravens, the Cleveland Browns 24-23 in Cleveland. Oiler running back Allen Pinkett scored 2 touchdowns to overcome 2 touchdown passes by Browns back up quarterback and former Baltimore Colt Mike Pagel who was actually the third string quarterback, playing not only for injured starter Bernie Kosar but also for his hurt back up Don Strock. Strock you may recall was the Ravens first offensive coordinator here in Baltimore serving on Ted Marchibroda’s staff, 1996-1998.
Ravens-Titans, they have met twice previously in the playoffs, with the visiting team winning each game. The Ravens beat the Titans 24-10 in Tennessee in the 2000 playoffs on their way to winning Super Bowl XXXV, highlighted by Anthony Mitchell’s 90 yard return of a blocked Al Del Greco field goal for a touchdown and Ray Lewis’50 yard interception return for a score that he took away from Titans’ running back Eddie George.
The Titans returned the favor in Baltimore in the 2003 playoffs. Gary Anderson hit a late 46 yard field goal that won the game for Tennessee. Wide receiver Justin McCareins scored on a long pass from Steve McNair that day. McCareins is back with the Titans again as a back-up wide receiver….Ravens’ wide receiver Derrick Mason was a member of the Titans for both of those games. He caught 7 passes for 88 yards in the 2000 game, and had three receptions for 28 yards in 2003….Titans easily out rushed the Ravens in both games 126-49 yards in 2000 and 165 to 54 yards in 2003….the good news is the game these teams played here on October 5, the Ravens out gained the Titans on the ground 132-47. The bad news is the Titans won on a late touchdown pass from Kerry Collins Alge Crumpler 13-10…
The Ravens last championship was won with a big contribution by punter Kyle Richardson who especially during the playoffs put a large percentage of his kicks inside the other team’s 20 yard line. This year Ravens punter Sam Koch led in the AFC with 34 kicks inside the 20, the Titans veteran punter Craig Hentrich landed 27 inside the 20….Titans’ kicker Ron Bironas was 29-33 on field goals, a big statistic in field goal kicking is average yardage per made kick. Bironas was at 38 yards, Matt Stover (27-33) averaged 32.3 yards….
Titans quarterback Kerry Collins completed 242 of 415 passing attempts, 58.3 completion percentage, for 2,676 yards, twelve scores and just 7 interceptions, his passer rating was 80.2. Joe Flacco completed 257 of 428 passing attempts, 60%, for 2,971 yards, 14 scores and twelve interceptions. Flacco did run for one hundred eighty yards and 2 touchdowns, Collins rushed for 49 and did not score a touchdown….Collins had perhaps his best season since he took the 1996 Carolina Panthers to the playoffs, he played better that year than when he took the 2000 Giants to the Super Bowl. Collins has never lost a home playoff game, beating the Cowboys in 1996 in Carolina and the Eagles and Vikings in 2000 with the Giants….
As with every game injuries are play a key role, the Titans are getting defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch back but could be missing perhaps their best all around player in center Kevin Mawae who has an injured elbow and is out for tomorrow’s game. Mawae did miss their Wildcard playoff loss last year in San Diego with an injury. Second year player Leroy Harris will play in place of Mawae, a big advantage to the Ravens and maybe enough to carry the Ravens to a win. Also one of the Titans’ best special teams players Josh Stamer will not be able to play due to a groin injury and has been placed on injured reserve… Ravens fans should keep an eye on wide receiver Justin Gage, he was Collins go to receiver and by the end of the year was making catches both on the outside and over the middle. Also running back Chris Johnson had 43 receptions out of the back field, last week the Ravens had trouble early covering the Dolphins Patrick Cobbs in the flat….some recent history is on the Ravens side; in 2005, the sixth seeded Steelers beat the top seeded Colts in the Divisional round on their way to the Super Bowl.