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NFL

Titans try to keep edge this time

Being eliminated from the playoffs at home two years ago motivates Tennessee.

©Associated Press
January 7, 2003


NASHVILLE -- Steve McNair refuses to think about what happened two years ago. Not defensive tackle Henry Ford.

The Titans lost 24-10 to Baltimore in a divisional playoff game on Jan. 7, 2001, ending their dreams of making a second straight Super Bowl.

"It's in the back of my mind at all times," Ford said. "Me personally, I think I'll never forget. We had a really, really good team that year and we missed the boat."

Afterward, Tennessee wondered how it lost its edge at home -- where it had been 16-1 until then.

The Titans are home again for a divisional playoff game, hosting the Steelers on Saturday. It is their first playoff appearance since that loss.

Their biggest mistake against the Ravens may have been overconfidence as the AFC's top seed.

"We just took things for granted that year, and I don't want to make the same mistake," Ford said.

The Ravens came in with momentum and left on their way to a Super Bowl title. The Titans dominated but were done in by three botched field goals -- one blocked, another that hit an upright and a third that was blocked and returned 90 yards for a touchdown.

Now Titans are on a roll as the No. 2 seed. After a 1-4 start, they are the league's hottest team, having won 10 of 11.

Running back Eddie George thinks this team -- with 27 Titans who played in the loss -- is stronger.

"You grow from it," George said. "You embrace that and grow from it. It's something we all learned from, the guys who were here."

This season's Titans also have their swagger back at home and have won five straight there. Saturday's game will be the 43rd consecutive sellout at The Coliseum, and coach Jeff Fisher said they can't waste the advantage.

"You have to be sure the players don't just assume because they're home that gives you a chance to play well," Fisher said.

"It doesn't."

"When we step in that stadium and it's packed and our fans are yelling and up on their feet, there's nothing like it," tackle Albert Haynesworth said. "I haven't seen a stadium with the atmosphere like this.

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