- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 29, 2001

OWINGS MILLS, Md. Win and get in.
It doesn't get much simpler for the Baltimore Ravens, who will seek to clinch their second straight playoff berth tonight against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game that has postseason implications for both.
The Ravens (9-5) can clinch an AFC wild card berth with a win at Raymond James Stadium. A win by the Bucs (8-6) and an Atlanta loss or tie tomorrow at Miami secures an NFC wild card for the Bucs.
"They're no more desperate than us everything is riding on the line for both of us," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "You could go through the nuances of what they have to do, what we have to do, but both take the mindset in that you've got to win this game."
The teams are almost a mirror image two bad offenses and two exceptional defenses. Perhaps that stems from the fact that Billick and Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy served together on Dennis Green's staff in Minnesota. Billick was the Vikings' offensive coordinator from 1993 to 1998 and Dungy defensive coordinator from 1992 to 1995.
"Tony and I have faced each other countless times on the practice field and obviously on the field," Billick said. "But it's been a long time in between that. There's not going to be any familiarity that benefits one or the other. It compounds the short-week problem with two teams that aren't familiar with each other."
This is the first meeting between these teams. The last time the Ravens were in Tampa, Fla., owner Art Modell bought billboards all over town and the Ravens enjoyed the franchise's greatest moment by soundly beating the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV last January.
This time it will be different for the Ravens. This isn't the Super Bowl, and the Buccaneers are 12-1 under Dungy at home in December, including 9-0 at Raymond James.
"This is going to be totally Tampa's crowd," said Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe. "Last time we were down there, it was a bipartisan crowd. We're going down there with a lot to prove and a lot to gain."
The Buccaneers are coming off an offensive explosion last Sunday, when they tied the team record with 48 points against the New Orleans Saints surprising for the NFL's 22nd-rated offense.
Buccaneers receiver Keyshawn Johnson is the league's leading receiver with 102 catches for 1,237 yards (12.1 average) but has just one touchdown. For whatever reason, quarterback Brad Johnson can't get their playmaker into the end zone.
"We're just not completing enough touchdown passes to him," Dungy said. "He's played well and caught the ball well, but he's been tackled on the 5- or 6-yard line a few times. We would like to get him more TD passes, but it's not something we're going to sit around and worry about."
The Ravens' 11th-rated offense has its own problems, sch as running the ball. Last week veteran Terry Allen rushed for 91 yards on 22 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown plunge, in the Ravens' 16-0 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. If Allen can top or duplicate those numbers, the Ravens' offense will be in good shape against the Buccaneers.
In order for the Ravens to run the ball, they will have to somehow deal with Warren Sapp, perhaps the most dominant defensive player in the NFL. Billick said earlier in the week that the Ravens will most likely double-team Sapp most of the game.
That's not the game plan Sharpe wanted to hear from his coach.
"All of a sudden my hamstring doesn't feel too good," Sharpe said of the prospect of blocking the 6-foot-2, 303-pound Sapp. "You've got to double the guy. Anybody who has been foolish enough not to double the guy, the guy has gotten sacks. You have to pay attention to him he's one of the great players in this league. Like I said before, there is only a handful of guys that can totally dominate a ball game, and he's one of those guys."

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