© St. Petersburg Times, published January 13, 2002
Hand it to the Ravens. They still talk a good game -- even though they haven't played one lately.
This is a team that isn't playing near the level it did in winning the Super Bowl last season. It has virtually no running game and a quarterback who has been so interception-prone that coaches have scaled back the offense.
The Ravens were plus-23 in turnover ratio last season, but are minus-8 this season. Their once-mighty defense has given up 100 more points than a season ago.
Yet, the Ravens are yapping about going all the way again.
"Right now, we're in the playoffs and records don't matter," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "It's all up in the air right now. The Super Bowl in New Orleans is our destiny."
DID YOU KNOW?: The five-time Super Bowl champion 49ers, who face the Packers in a wild-card game today in Green Bay, are 1-7 in road playoff games in the past 30 years.
I WAS THERE FIRST: During the first half of Sunday's Bengals-Titans game, Titans defensive backs Perry Phenix and DeRon Jenkins got into a shoving match. Phenix even took a swing.
What were the fighting about?
A seat on the team's heated bench.
Said teammate Samari Rolle: "It's sad isn't it?"
Yeah, Samari. Real sad.
SLEEPING IN LATE AGAIN: The Patriots, off this weekend by virtue of winning the AFC East, should be well rested for their divisional playoff game next weekend. They've had two byes in the past three weeks, or three if you count their regular-season finale against 1-15 Carolina.
AREN'T THEY BEING A TAD PRESUMPTUOUS?: Don't look now, but Bears cornerback R.W. McQuarters is looking into making a song and video similar to the Super Bowl Shuffle in 1985.
"The music is already done. It's just a matter of me going down and recording it. I've asked a couple of guys on the team (to participate) and they said yeah," McQuarters said. "We're not going to do the old-school video like they did (in '85). We're going to add a little flavor to it. I'm the lead rapper."
"PICKED" APART: It's fashionable these days to dump on the Raiders, who lost their last three regular-season games. But of genuine concern for Oakland should be quarterback Rich Gannon, who threw seven interceptions in the past seven games after two in his first nine.
There's some question that a vicious hit to his throwing shoulder in the second-to-last game of the season in Denver still may be bothering him, but Gannon disagrees.
"I think my numbers would indicate that my shoulder is doing good," he said.
DID YOU KNOW II?: Broncos running back Terrell Davis, who had 167 carries and 12 receptions, didn't score a touchdown this season for the first time in his seven-year career.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The Giants have reached three Super Bowls and have failed to reach the playoffs in each of the seasons that followed.
New York was hurt by the five games in which it blew fourth-quarter leads.
JUMPING SHIP?: Word out of New Orleans is that running back Ricky Williams is looking to get out of the Crescent City. After the swan dive the Saints took down the stretch, losing their last four by an average of 27 points, who can blame him?
But Williams denied the rumors, saying he's happy with the Saints.
"I've never talked to anyone about being traded. I love it in New Orleans. I just bought a condo there," he said. "Everywhere I've been across the whole country, people have asked me about it. It upsets me. The whole season I didn't complain. I busted my butt. I did everything they asked me to, and now people are making me out to be a crybaby."
Still, would it surprise anyone if Williams were with another team next season?
WHY NOT US?: It's been 16 seasons since the Dolphins were in the Super Bowl, yet Miami thinks it has as good a chance as anyone to make it this season.
"Let's go out, have fun and get on a roll because there's not one team in the AFC that's scary," linebacker Zach Thomas said. "Not one team."
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.