On the offensive
Ravens: We do enough on offense to win
Updated: Thursday January 25, 2001 9:06 PM
By John Giannone, CNNSI.com
"It" is the five-week touchdown drought the Ravens endured in October -- that inept stretch in which quarterback Tony Banks lost his job, the Ravens lost three games and the offense lost any respect around the league.
Although the Ravens recovered from that turbulence to win 10 consecutive games -- including two road games in the playoffs -- and fly into Super Bowl XXXV, respect hasn't exactly accompanied them on their business trip to southwest Florida.
Some have called Baltimore's offense the worst in Super Bowl history. The same label has been ironed onto Dilfer's back.
On Thursday, members of that offense took notice. And took offense.
"Put it this way," wide receiver Ismail said. "When we win, I think I'm going to sit back and say to myself, 'Ah, I have a ring on my finger and I could care less what other people think because they can never take away what I have.'"
"You don't have to like us, you don't have to root for us and you don't even have to respect us," tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "But you know what? You know who does? The people across the field. Our opponent respects us. They know we're a good football team."
Sharpe has been the Ravens' most dangerous -- some say the only dangerous -- offensive weapon in the postseason. He is the one offensive player the Giants admit they must account for on Sunday.
Against the Broncos, Sharpe scored a touchdown on a pass that pinballed off two players. At Tennessee, Sharpe snared a long Dilfer pass down the left sideline that set up a touchdown. And against the Raiders, Sharpe dashed to a 96-yard score -- the longest TD pass in playoff history.
And while Sharpe has no problem demanding the ball from Dilfer in clutch situations, he also accepts that his Bronco-esque eight-catch, 100-yard games are history.
"We have the easiest job on the field," he said. "How many offenses would love to be in our position where you say, 'You go score 12 points and we'll win the game?'
"You can talk about how prolific the Rams offense is but they have to score 40 points to win. We score seven, we have a chance. That's easy."
Perhaps the Ravens' skin is so thick because three months ago, they grew immune to the criticism and sarcasm that accompanied discussions about their offense. They had to; it was their only defense mechanism.
And it was the only way to save their season.
"This team faced an incredible number of challenges that drew them together and they rely on each other," Billick said. "This team did not falter or fragment."
"We have only one heartbeat around here," cornerback Chris McAlister said. "Nobody looked around at the offense when they weren't going good and said, 'Hey, you need to put up some points, you suck.' We're satisfied with whatever you give us."
"Any team you're on, you want it to be a brotherhood," fullback Sam Gash said. "You might be upset with them but you love them anyway. They [the defense] were never upset with us because they know the talent we have."