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Inspirational force

Ravens' attitude trickled down from Billick to players

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Posted: Monday January 29, 2001 12:06 AM
Updated: Monday January 29, 2001 2:11 AM

  Brian Billick Ravens head coach Brian Billick backed up his brash words in Super Bowl XXXV. AP

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Brian Billick never guaranteed anything, even though someone with his personality might have been tempted to promise a Super Bowl victory.

A self-proclaimed egomaniac, the Baltimore Ravens coach was, and is, extremely confident. He was like that all week, even all season.

It rubbed off on his players and might have been the key ingredient in the Ravens' 34-7 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night. Billick certainly thinks so.

"This group has done that all year long," Billick said. "They have an attitude and they're going to play that way. There's a difference between confident and loose and too loose. This group knows how to enjoy themselves, stay focused when need be and go to work."

Thanks to Billick.

He never forces the team into unnecessary meetings. He never makes the players practice any longer than what keeps them sharp. All he demands is their attention.

"That's just kind of the way we do business," he said.

 
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   Ravens head coach Brian Billick is ready to argue his defense is the best in NFL history.
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Most of America questioned Billick's actions last Monday when he told reporters to lay off linebacker Ray Lewis, who was on trial last year for murder.

A former public relations director for the San Francisco 49ers, Billick defended his harsh words with even harsher words. He fired a calculating, pre-emptive salvo in anticipation of media day, when dozens of reporters from all over the world met face-to-face with Lewis for the first time.

Billick upheld his sentiments after Sunday's game.

"I don't know how many barriers you have to go through and how many challenges you have to face before people recognize who you are," Billick said. "I think a lot of people have a great deal of respect for him on the football field and clearly this puts him on that level.

"What they think about him personally, they're going to have make their own minds up. I've been with the man for two years, and he's a class act."

Lewis anchored Baltimore's defense Sunday, helping hold the Giants to 152 total yards and forcing them into five turnovers. He was selected the game's MVP.

"We unleash things that people aren't ready to see," Lewis said.

Added Billick: "I'm not even sure they even quite knew what they were coming into. Until you play us and face that defense, it's tough to gauge."

That's not the case with Billick, whose confidence never wavered. Not even when the Ravens went five games early in the season without an offensive touchdown. He never allowed his team to become divided in its struggle.

It paid off with a championship.

Even with the game virtually out of reach in the third quarter, Billick didn't back off. He asked his players for more. He has come to expect nothing less.

It wasn't until there was five minutes to play that Billick removed his headset, certain the Ravens would be victorious. His players knew it, too. Then defensive tackles Larry Webster and Sam Adams doused Billick with ice water.

Billick savored the moment, but not for very long. A few seconds later, when cameramen and photographers surrounded Lewis. Billick started shoving them away from the sideline.

"I'm just numb right now," Billick said. "It's all numb to me. I don't have the next team to get ready for, but I imagine it will come around pretty quickly."


 
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