- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2002

PITTSBURGH Baltimore Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe hinted that yesterday's 27-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC divisional playoffs may be his last game.
Sharpe, whose record 12-game winning streak in the playoffs came to an end, said he will retire if the Ravens don't improve their offense.
"Right now if I had to make a decision and if I had a crystal ball that said, 'Shannon, it's going to happen [next season] just like it did this year,' I'd just walk away," said Sharpe, who was picked to play in the Pro Bowl. "There's not a team we could have beaten today."
The 33-year-old Sharpe, who holds the NFL record for career catches (697) and receiving yards (8,660) by a tight end, said he's not going to train hard in the offseason if the Ravens aren't serious about improving the team, especially the offense.
"I don't feel I could dedicate myself and come back in the shape I need to be to perform to have it end like this," he said. "I did all that [last offseason], spent all that money getting in shape, basically for nothing. Right now I don't have an opinion. I'm going to take some time off; I really have to do some soul searching because right now I'm a very frustrated man."

Goose's last game
Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa called it a career yesterday in the city where his football career really took off.
Siragusa was a standout college player at Pittsburgh. The massive Siragusa, who had two tackles in his final game, struggled afterward to keep his emotions under control.
"When you do something your whole life and it comes to end, it's tough, especially going out like this," he said. "I started my career here in Pittsburgh as a Pitt Panther, and unfortunately I have to leave [the game] here."
The 6-foot-3, 340-pound Siragusa plans to go into acting and broadcasting and may write a book. The Ravens will remember Siragusa as an ideal teammate.
"[Heck] of a guy," Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "He gave you something that made you appreciate the game. He gave you laughter. He gave you heartaches and pains. He gave us everything you are supposed to give into a team as well as a player."

Bouncing back
Jermaine Lewis was all the offense the Ravens had yesterday, and he went into the NFL record book as a result.
Green Bay Packers' quarterback Brett Favre covers his face with a towel in the second quarter of their NFC divisional playoff game against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, Jan. 20, 2002, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
"I'm glad I did it, but I would have loved to have seen the game turn out the other way," Lewis said.
Lewis did a bit of improvising when he changed direction during the return.
"It was a left return, but when I caught it, I thought, 'I'm just going to run to the open spot,'" Lewis said. "I got a couple blocks, and I just hit the hole with so much speed that I knew I was going to outrun the punter. No one really touched me."

Picked off
Steelers cornerback Chad Scott, another former Maryland player, ended Baltimore's first series by intercepting Elvis Grbac's pass for Travis Taylor at the Pittsburgh 38. The pass hung up like a wounded duck because Grbac was hit by blitzing linebacker Joey Porter as he threw. Scott returned the ball 19 yards to the Baltimore 43, setting the stage for Kris Brown's 21-yard field goal that put the Steelers ahead to stay just 6:53 into the game.
"Elvis already had a problem throwing interceptions [18 in his previous 17 games compared to 16 touchdowns], and that set the tone," Steelers safety Lee Flowers said. "That's a bad way for a quarterback to start a game."

The first one
The game was the first playoff contest in Heinz Field, and it attracted 63,976, the biggest crowd in Pittsburgh sports history. The Steelers were 13-6 at home in postseason at now-demolished Three Rivers Stadium, where they went to five Super Bowls in 31 seasons.
"The crowd was a big factor," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "Come back next week. Same place, same time and hopefully they'll be our 12th guy [again] because we fed off that today."

Three of a kind
If Pittsburgh, which is favored, beats New England in Sunday's AFC Championship game, that will make three straight Central Division teams in the Super Bowl following Baltimore last year and Tennessee in 1999. One division hasn't produced three straight Super Bowl teams since the NFC East and AFC East matched up every season from 1990 to 1993.

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