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Posted: Wednesday January 17, 2001 3:03 PM

From the Newsstand
  The Buzz What it means
Ken Murray of The Baltimore Sun asks do the Ravens have to win in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 28 to be recognized as one of the greatest defenses in NFL history? History beckons, and how the Ravens' defense responds likely will determine the outcome of Super Bowl XXXV in 11 days. The Ravens rang up four shutouts in the regular season, second most in history. They allowed the fewest points in a 16-game schedule. They allowed the fewest rushing yards ever over 16 games. But if they really want to be convincing in their bid to join the greats, they should follow the lead of the 1985 world champion Chicago Bears.
Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News notes the Jets didn't win the game, but they may have uncovered the kryptonite needed to destroy the NFL's Super Men. In their season-ending loss to the Ravens, the Jets produced 20 points, 524 total yards and 22 first downs, a stunning outburst that no doubt will be dissected by Jim Fassel and his staff as they formulate an offensive game plan for Super Bowl XXXV. The Jets-Ravens tape should be Exhibit A in offensive coordinator Sean Payton's video library. No other team in the last eight weeks has scored more than one touchdown against the Ravens. The Jets scored 14 points in a four-minute span, almost as many as the Ravens allowed in three AFC playoff games -- 16 points.
Leonard Shapiro and Kathy Orton of The Washington Post note the picture on the front page of the Oakland Tribune on Monday encapsulated the agony of the Raiders. There was quarterback Rich Gannon, a nasty bruise visible on his right elbow, his face buried in his hands shortly after he was removed from the AFC title game in the fourth quarter of the Baltimore Ravens' crushing, 16-3 triumph. "We tried everything," Oakland head coach Jon Gruden said. "We used different formations, different personnel groupings, and we were unable to get anything going. They give you a lot of miscellaneous looks. You have to guess with them a little bit and call plays to account for the blitz. They're right up there with that [1985] Chicago defense, the Fearsome Foursome [of the Rams in the 1960s] and the Steel Curtain [Steelers teams of the 1970s]."
Steve Zipay of Newsday says CBS studio analyst Mike Ditka, who angered Giants head coach Jim Fassel by telling viewers in November that "everybody thinks the Giants are soft," changed his tune Tuesday. "I don't see that there's a more deserving team," to be in Super Bowl XXXV, Ditka said. "They're the most balanced team coming out of the NFC." Because both the Giants and Ravens defenses are stifling, the former Bears and Saints head coach also said that Las Vegas was wrong in making the Giants 2 1/2-point underdogs. The teams "are so evenly matched, the game may come down to one play here or there," he said.

Related information
Stories's Ravens-Giants Statistical Matchups
Burning Questions: Dilfer's home-stadium advantage
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