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War of words
Titans trying to avoid 'tongue wrasslin'' with Ravens
Posted: Wednesday January 03, 2001 6:16 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 03, 2001 11:49 PM
Steve McNair and the Titans have won four consecutive -- but the Ravens have won eight in a row. Scott Halleran/Allsport
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- If it's a "tongue-wrasslin'" battle the Baltimore Ravens want, they'll have to look elsewhere. The Tennessee Titans refuse to play.
The defending AFC champions watched as the Ravens celebrated their wild-card victory against Denver last weekend, and they listened as announcers relayed Baltimore head coach Brian Billick's thoughts that the winner of that game would head to the Super Bowl.
The Ravens pointed out how they are the only team -- ever -- to win at the Titans' Adelphia Coliseum, and Ravens wide receiver Patrick Johnson added more trash talk by saying the Titans were "just a lot of hype."
None of the Titans are talking back before Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game.
|OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- Baltimore was so good against the run this season, tackle Rob Burnett is convinced the Ravens would have stuffed one of the best backs in the history of the game.
"Jim Brown couldn't run on us," Burnett declared Wednesday. "You tell Jim that I said that, too. I ain't scared of Jim. He's old. I'll bang his body and wear him out in the later rounds."
Brown is long retired, but Baltimore must contend Sunday with Tennessee's Eddie George, who ran for 1,509 yards and scored 16 touchdowns this season.
But the Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 34 games, by far the longest current streak in the NFL. Baltimore yielded only 970 yards rushing, the fewest ever over a 16-game season.
"It's because we're physical and because we hustle. It's what we do. It's our game," Burnett said.
Change of scenery: The Ravens returned to the scene of their inaugural playoff victory Wednesday, practicing at PSINet Stadium because the field at their training facility in Owings Mills was frozen.
"It was kind of neat going down there. It was kind of a different atmosphere, probably like a bowl game preparation," head coach Brian Billick said.
It was the Ravens' first full-scale workout for Sunday's game. Baltimore advanced by eliminating the Denver Broncos from the playoffs with a 21-3 victory at home last Sunday.
Because their practice field was hard as rock and the Ravens have no home games left, PSINet Stadium was a perfect alternative.
"I think it energized them a little bit. I know they were appreciative of being on a soft surface," Billick said.
The Ravens also plan to practice at the stadium Thursday.
Injury update: The Ravens are preparing to play Sunday without safety Kim Herring, who has been hobbled by a sprained ankle.
Herring, listed as doubtful in Wednesday's injury report, will be replaced by Corey Harris.
"Those high ankle sprains are tough. I would not be overly optimistic about his ability to be available on Sunday," Billick said.
On the positive side, quarterback Trent Dilfer was left off the injury report. Dilfer left the Denver game with a concussion but ultimately returned.
"It was a heck of a hit and he wasn't feeling real good about it, but I think the severity has been overplayed a little bit," Billick said.
Meanwhile, the Ravens placed tight end John Jones on the injured reserve list with an ankle injury and signed wide receiver Germany Thompson and tight end Jason Gavadza to the practice squad.
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"That's their nature," Titans quarterback Steve McNair said of the Ravens. "We're a team that's going to go out and just play football. We don't get caught up in that. They're a great team. They've got a reason to talk."
Defensive end Kenny Holmes said the Titans will respond as they do every week.
"Show up on Sunday and go to work and leave the talking to the other team and let them win the tongue-wrasslin battle. Nine out of 10 times, we win the war on the field," Holmes said.
None of the Ravens' comments have been posted in the Titans' locker room. There has been no need.
"We saw how they acted after the game," defensive tackle John Thornton said. "We're going to be excited to go out there and play."
The Ravens were in damage control mode on Wednesday with safety Rod Woodson saying that Johnson told him his comment was taken out of context. Billick also defended his comments in a conference call with Nashville reporters, saying it should be news if a coach or player in the playoffs doesn't think his team can go to the Super Bowl.
"It's kind of fun to be at this level with one another," Billick said. "There's going to be a little bit of chest-thumping going on both sides of the ball."
Not from the Titans.
Linebacker Randall Godfrey said the Titans haven't been told to keep their mouths shut and that they just have a different style under head coach Jeff Fisher, who never gives opponents any comment worthy of posting on a bulletin board.
"All year teams have been talking trash some. We've been doing our own thing -- going out and playing our type of ball and not worrying about what people are saying about us. It's been paying off, so we've got to just continue doing what we've been doing," Godfrey said.
Ask the Titans if they're surprised by what they've heard from the Ravens, and some of the answers sound as if they came straight from a list of cliches. The Ravens are a great defense with great players, a team that has their full respect.
Fisher said the Ravens, winners of eight straight, have every reason to be confident with very high expectations.
The perceptive might find something between the lines of what little is said.
"What do you do?" asked Titans fullback Lorenzo Neal. "You can't talk. Sunday you'll get to see what happens. We're playing it on Sunday, not during the week. We're just going to go out and play hard and let the chips fall where they may. Go out and execute and play hard ball.
"They're the one with the great defense, all the stars. We can't run. We're just up against it. We'll try to scratch and claw and try to get us a win."
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