- The Washington Times - Monday, November 12, 2001

OWINGS MILLS, Md. Grandma, this one is for you.
Today in the Baltimore Ravens' first-ever "Monday Night Football" game at the Tennessee Titans, tight end Shannon Sharpe has a good chance to enter the NFL record book for the most career receptions by a tight end.
Sharpe only hopes his grandmother can stay up late enough to watch his historic milestone.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to do it this week because my grandmother is going to be watching and she told me, 'I'm going to bed at 9:30 so whether you have the record or not, I'm in the bed,'" Sharpe said. "That gives me incentive to go out there and try to get this thing early because I know she is a woman of her word. She'll be in the bed and asleep at 9:30."
Sharpe (660 catches) needs just three receptions to pass his boss Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' senior vice president of operations, for the record. The plan is for tonight's game to be stopped when and if Sharpe catches that third pass. A representative of the NFL Hall of Fame will be on the sideline to collect the ball that will be displayed in Canton, Ohio.
Sharpe said he will lie down and stop the game until Newsome comes onto the field to congratulate him. That sounds great, but this important AFC Central game is being played in Adelphia Coliseum the home of the struggling Titans (3-4). How will the home crowd react to an arch-rival holding an in-game celebration in their house?
"I don't know, I agree with what [Ravens coach] Brian [Billick] said, maybe they'll appreciate it and realize that they just witnessed something special and then the next time I catch the ball boo like they did in Denver," Sharpe said. "It won't frustrate me or get me down if they boo."
Sharpe, 33, is the Ravens' leading receiver again this season with 41 receptions for 472 yards and one touchdown. Last season, Sharpe led the team in receiving (67 receptions for 810 yards) and came up huge in the playoffs. The seven-time Pro Bowler amassed 230 yards and two TDs on just six catches in the postseason en route to leading the Ravens to a victory in Super Bowl XXXV.
Tonight's game also marks the return of Ravens starting quarterback Elvis Grbac. Grbac sat out the last two games because of bruised ribs. Ravens backup quarterback Randall Cunningham did a yeoman's job in directing the Ravens (5-3) to two consecutive victories including last week's pivotal 13-10 win at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Grbac was the Ravens' quarterback in their last game against the Titans a 26-7 win on Oct. 7 in Baltimore the Ravens' most lopsided victory of the season. In that game, Grbac completed 15 of 31 passes for 259 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Qadry Ismail.
"More than anything, it's going to be a very different scenario in their place on Monday night," Grbac said.
Grbac said he doesn't feel any additional pressure to perform well in light of Cunningham's achievements the past two games.
"I was in Kansas City and I went through the same scenario [with Rich Gannon] and came back and played well there," Grbac said. "Quarterback is a situation where there is a lot of different stresses and adversities that you've got to be prepared for and I look forward to the challenge."
There is no love lost between these teams. Last season, the Titans seemed to be everybody's preseason lock to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. That didn't happen when the Ravens easily eliminated Tennessee 24-10 in an AFC divisional playoff game. Earlier in the year, the Ravens handed the Titans their first-ever loss at Adelphia Coliseum. The Ravens have won the last three games between the bitter rivals.
"We've cost that organization some things homefield advantage in 1999 when we beat them [in Baltimore], certainly the home record there last year, the playoffs a deservedly 13-3 team thinking that they were the heir apparent to the Super Bowl, and we put them in an 0-3 hole this year," Billick said. "I don't expect a lot of Christmas cards from Tennessee."
Before the first meeting this season, coach Jeff Fisher told the Titans he didn't care if they lost to the Ravens as long as they "hit like a 2-by-4." Last year, Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister said star Titans running back Eddie George "rolls over like a baby when you hit him." Sharpe stated last year that the Ravens had foreclosed on Adelphia Coliseum.
"There's definitely some unfinished business and bad blood," said Titans defensive end Kevin Carter.
Said Fisher, "This is not a personal thing. Anytime you line up against anybody and lose two or three consecutive games or lose a playoff game there is a level of frustration. But, I also believe this, the good plays in the playoff game that we made, the good plays in the playoff game that the Ravens made and the negative plays on both parts as well as all the plays that were in the first matchup, have no bearing or no influence whatsoever on what's going to happen on Monday."


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