Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ravens Out-Smack Titans In Chilly Slugfest


History worth repeating? Eight years ago the Ravens had to beat the 13-3 Tennessee Titans in the divisional round to get on the roll that would take them to their first ever Super Bowl title. Well, in 2009, it appears that it is happening again.

The Ravens took advantage of key Titian turnovers and missed opportunties to beat the Titans in chilly Tennessee 13-10 Saturday evening.

The Ravens once again displayed a physical and unforgiving brand of defense. They were all over quarterback Kerry Collins, forcing the quaterback in key mistakes and hitting him even without recording a sack.

With the score tied at seven in the second quarter, the Titans were marching right down the field on an impressive eight minute drive that started at the Tennessee one yard line. Collins had completed five straight passes on the drive including a 24 yarder to Justin Gage to spot the ball in Baltimore territory. With the Titans now at the Raven 32, and in position to get some points on the board, Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan sent in a blitz that surrounded the quarterback. Collins heaved up the ball in desperation and it was picked off by Samari Rolle killing the drive and Tennessee's chances.

Later in the third, the Titans were able to move once again. Collins hit LenDale White in the flat for 19 yards to the Ravens 36. Three plays later, kicker Rod Bironas, who is usually very reliable for the Titans missed the field right to the left to cost Tennessee the lead.

At the end of the third, the Ravens finally got it together. Rookie Joe Flacco hit Mark Clayton in near the sideline for a 37 yard gain to the Titans four yard line. Clayton lept over two Tennessee defenders to make the catch. A few plays later, the Ravens took a 10-7 lead with a Matt Stover field goal.

Still Tennessee would not go away. The Titans put together a 5:30 minute drive, with Collins completing three passes of over ten yards to get the ball to the Raven 14. On second and nine, Collins hit a wide open tight end Algee Crumpler who tried to turn upfield toward the endzone. As he was moving upfield, Crumpler was smashed by two Raven defenders, causing Crumpler to cough up the football as the Ravens recovered it killing the drive.

The Titans would eventually tie the game late in the fourth, but there was still enough time for the Ravens to win this game. Flacco hit Todd Heap for 23 yards to mid field on a huge third and two. Later, Flacco hit Clayton for eight yards to move the ball to the Tennessee 25. Stover came out once again and kicked the winning field goal from 43 yards out.

The Titans failed to move the ball on their final possession and the Ravens went into a frenzy on the sidelines. The Ravens are now in the AFC Championship game scheduled for next Sunday at 6:30 pm.

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