- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens were stopped cold in Art Modells last game as owner.

The Ravens league-best rushing attack ground to a halt under the crushing dominance of the Tennessee Titans front seven. Unable to do what they do best, the AFC North champions quickly exited the AFC playoffs, but at least they went out in dramatic fashion.

Tennessee kicker Gary Anderson booted a 46-yard field goal with 29 seconds left as the Titans edged the Ravens 20-17 in an AFC wild-card game yesterday before 69,452 at M&T; Bank Stadium.

Anderson, who at 44 is the second-oldest player in the league, barely cleared the crossbar. Andersons kick snapped Tennessees five-game losing streak to the Ravens and was his longest field goal of the season.

Andersons heroics overcame a dramatic Baltimore fourth-quarter scoring drive that saw the Ravens tie the game 17-17 with 4:30 left on quarterback Anthony Wrights 35-yard strike to Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap.

The Titans (13-4) will visit the AFC East champion New England Patriots or AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs next weekend.

“There was a certain amount of pressure, but I have been in these situations before,” Anderson said. “Somehow I focus on what needs to be done, so that everything disappears and I can focus on the ball.”

A needless penalty on Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown indirectly set up the Titans game-winning kick. With the game tied 17-17 and third-and-3 at their own 35, Brown was flagged for unnecessary roughness when he pushed Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse, who got tangled up on the ground with Ravens tight end Terry Jones Jr., after an incomplete pass to Heap.

The 15-yard penalty gave the Titans excellent field position at their own 37 with 2:44 left. Titans quarterback Steve McNair, who had the NFLs highest passing rating this season at 100.4, expertly guided the Titans into Andersons range in the final two minutes. This costly penalty was Browns second personal foul of the game.

“You always get the last man,” said Brown, who played at the Districts H.D. Woodson High School. “I should have grabbed myself. They always get the last man.”

The Ravens running game had been the offenses bread and butter all season. Jamal Lewis, the NFLs leading rusher with 2,066 yards, was held to 35 on 14 carries as the Titans packed the box with eight and nine players. It was Lewis worst game since he gained 34 yards on 14 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers in October 2002.

This season Lewis became just the fifth back in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season and set a single-game rushing record with 295 yards against the Cleveland Browns on Sept.14. But he was stopped in his tracks by the Titans top-ranked run defense.

“We faced good running backs all year,” Titans Pro Bowl linebacker Keith Bulluck said. “That was our first time going against a 2,000-yard rusher. Jamal Lewis, you cant discredit him for what he did, but when the playoffs come, its a new season. Everybody steps their game up a notch. We dont have the number one rush defense for no reason. We expected to do what we did.”

Said Lewis, “I think they did soften up a little bit in the fourth quarter, but we just didnt stick with it. We didnt pound it like we should have.”

With the Ravens offense going nowhere in the first quarter, it was up to the teams opportunistic defense to put points on the scoreboard. Safety Will Demps intercepted McNairs pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown that tied the game 7-7 with 6:12 left in the first quarter.

It was Demps first career touchdown and the first of three interceptions on McNair, who was named the leagues co-MVP. Overall, he completed 14 of 23 passes for 159 yards with one touchdown.

Matt Stovers 43-yard field goal gave the Ravens a 10-7 halftime lead, but McNair erased it with a 49-yard third-quarter bomb to Justin McCareins.

On the Ravens game-tying, fourth-quarter drive, Wright was five of six for 80 yards. For the game, he completed 20 of 37 passes for 214 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

“They were packing the box too much,” Wright said. “They were forcing us to have to go outside. We stayed in the game. This is what a championship game is like. We stayed in the game, but we didnt pull it out in the end.”

Note Six of the eight Ravens Pro Bowl selections were announced yesterday as starters: tackle Jonathan Ogden, running back Jamal Lewis, linebackers Peter Boulware and Ray Lewis, safety Ed Reed, and special teamer Adalius Thomas.

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