Today we flash back to November of 2001 when the Ravens clashed with the Titans in their first ever appearance on Monday Night Football. The Ravens were the defending Super Bowl champions, and this was the rematch of the infamous AFC Divisional Round playoff game from the year before.
You remember that game, don’t you?
The Titans wanted revenge. They wanted blood. They hated the Ravens more than the Ravens hated them. The Titans were by far and away the best AFC team in 2000. Well, except when they played the Ravens. And the Titans couldn’t get over that fact. They couldn’t accept it.
The Titans entered the game with a (3-4) record and desperately needed a win. And this was their chance to exorcise themselves of all their demons. Haha. Nope.
Let’s take a look at one of the better and most controversial endings in Monday Night Football history.
The first half was a slobberknocker of a slugfest that saw both teams enter halftime with exactly zero points despite a crazy final 2:09 of the 2nd quarter. Following a long drive, Titans QB Steve McNair attempted a quarterback sneak on a 3rd and inches, only to have the ball pop up in the air and be returned 69 yards for a touchdown by Rod Woodson. But the referees overturned the call, stating McNair’s elbow was on the ground prior to fumbling.
Unfortunately for the Titans, the snap was high on the ensuing 24 yard field goal, resulting in a botched attempt. The missed field goal marked the end of a stretch in which the Titans were only 1 for their previous 7 field goal attempts against the Ravens going back to the 2000 regular season. They also missed an extra point during that span. Seriously? One for seven in FGA’s? How does that happen?
That’s less clutch than Matt Ryan!
The Ravens’ first drive after halftime stalled, and Kyle Richardson botched the snap on the ensuing punt. This gave the Titans the ball at the Ravens’ 8 yard line. Sound familiar? That’s 3 botched punts for Kyle Richardson in his last 2 games in Tennessee, going back to the playoff game. The Titans couldn’t kick a field goal to save their lives against Baltimore, and Kyle Richardson couldn’t get off a frickin’ punt. The special teams antics of this rivalry was nothing short of pathetic.
The Titans actually made a field goal on that drive, ensuring that Hell would indeed freeze over. The game’s first points came on a drive that read: four plays, minus-1 yard. Typical Ravens football. Jermaine Lewis ran the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the Titans’ 16, which was 5 more yards of offense than the Ravens had all game prior to the return. The Ravens settled for a field goal of their own, making the score 3-3 with roughly 6 minutes remaining in the 3rd.
Following a long drive for 7 by the Titans, the Ravens answered with a 57 yard touchdown connection from Elvis Grbac to Qadry Ismail. Two plays later, BFF Eddie George fumbled, which eventually led to a Matt Stover field goal and a 13-10 lead for the Ravens. Stover would later tack on another FG, giving Baltimore a 16-10 lead halfway through the 4th.
Now to the controversy: 14 plays and 72 yards later, the Titans were at the Ravens’ 6 yard line before McNair connected with Kevin Dyson at the 1 yard line with 11 seconds remaining and Tennessee out of timeouts. After a mad scramble, McNair rushed into the end zone for what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown as time expired.
Head referee Bernie Kukar initially ruled touchdown, but that only sparked a controversy that would span the better part of 10 minutes.
After talking it over with his officials and speaking to both head coaches, Kukar announced that Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware made contact with a Titans player prior to the snap, resulting in a dead ball offsides penalty on Baltimore. Thus, the touchdown did not count. Ironically enough, that STILL wasn’t the correct call, as the Titans should have been penalized with an illegal formation. They did not have enough men on the line of scrimmage.
Despite all this, the Titans were faced with one last play from the 1 yard line that would ultimately end the game. McNair tried a QB sneak only to be denied by a combination of Sam Adams, Corey Harris, Jamie Sharper, and Ray Lewis, of course. The Titans were denied once again. Ray Lewis promptly sprinted at full speed to the middle of the field, helmet in hand, playing to the booing crowd. Titans head coach Jeff “crybaby” Fisher refused to shake hands with Billick following the ending of the game.
Tony Siragusa said it was “by far the craziest game I’ve ever been a part of.”
Brian Billick capped it best, stating “I expect my check in the mail from ABC tomorrow. Finally had a Monday night game that was worth staying up for. Unbelievable. Unbelievable sequence of events.”
Gotta love Brian Billick. Gotta love him.
In case you were wondering, the Titans still hate us.