- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2000


NASHVILLE, Tenn. Thank you, Al Del Greco.
The Tennessee Titans' kicker missed an extra point and a potential 43-yard game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter yesterday, enabling the Baltimore Ravens to escape with an improbable 24-23 win before 68,490 at Adelphia Coliseum.
Del Greco's wide-right miss on the field goal as time expired allowed the Ravens to become the first team to defeat the AFC Central-leading Titans (8-2) in Adelphia Coliseum and ended their streak one game shy of the NFL-record 13 consecutive wins to open a stadium.
A week earlier, Del Greco had kicked three field goals, including a game-winning 29-yarder that beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7. In addition to yesterday's missed game-winner, Del Greco bounced an extra point off the left upright, which accounted for the Titans' loss.
"You are supposed to win games like this one, and we did not," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "I'm not putting this game on our kicker. It's his job to kick the ball through the uprights, not only on the extra point but on the field goal. That's his job, and he didn't get his job done today. So at some point, the streak ends."
Del Greco's miss was the third time he has failed to convert from between 40 and 49 yards this season, and this one cost the Titans a game.
"Al's done so much for this team, and to put this game on Al is unfair," said Titans Pro Bowl tight end Frank Wycheck, a Maryland alumnus. "There's a lot of things in the game that went wrong, and we should have done better. But you really can't put the total blame on Al."
Instead, the Titans should be ashamed for letting this game get away. A badly underthrown pass by Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer turned into an 87-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tennessee strong safety Perry Phenix with 2:30 left.
After Del Greco's crucial missed extra point, the Titans led 23-17 and the game appeared over. But on the kickoff, the Ravens started their game-winning drive at their own 30.
With precious minutes left, Dilfer, who went 23-for-36 with 281 yards and two touchdowns, made up for his earlier blunder by engineering a 13-play, game-winning drive capped by Patrick Johnson's 2-yard touchdown with 29 seconds left.
A huge pass interference penalty against Titans cornerback Dainon Sidney in the end zone while working against Ravens wideout Qadry Ismail on a fourth-and-2 at the Tennessee 21, put the ball at the Titans 2.
Johnson, had who dropped a potential touchdown bomb in the second quarter, redeemed himself with the game-winner on a quick out just inside the right pylon. After scoring, Johnson broke into a victory dance the same dance Atlanta Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan gave him a body slam for performing.
"Yeah, I did it, but Trent told me to stop, so I just quit," Johnson said. "He said, 'Don't do all that.' I didn't care if anybody was looking to slam me. The game was over."
In what was expected to be a defensive battle, the Ravens (7-4) lit up the scoreboard early. Dilfer hit Ismail on a 46-yard first-quarter bomb up the left sideline for a 7-0 lead.
The Ravens increased it to 14-0 in the second quarter after masterfully executing a 17-play, 96-yard drive that ended on a 2-yard touchdown run by Jamal Lewis. The drive ate up 10:11 of the clock.
Lewis, the Ravens prized rookie running back, led all rushers with 99 yards on 23 attempts in his first game in Tennessee since he played for the Volunteers in college.
The Titans cut the deficit to 14-7 in the second quarter when quarterback Steve McNair hit wide receiver Derrick Mason on a 10-yard slant over the middle.


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