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AFC notes

By Wire services
Published January 3, 2004

BRONCOS: Denver is confident about playing at Indianapolis. The Broncos have won eight of the past 11 in the series and are 5-3 in road games against the Colts, including 3-2 at the RCA Dome. In a 14-point win at Indianapolis two weeks ago, the Broncos rushed for 277 yards without Clinton Portis.

"We feel pretty good about ourselves. That's what you want to have," defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "You want to go in there with an attitude. You don't want to go in there like, "Oh, my God, what have we gotten ourselves into?' I feel like I did back in those days when we won two (Super Bowls)."

Tight end Shannon Sharpe has a team-high eight touchdown receptions. His teams have won 12 consecutive playoff games, from 1997-2001 with the Broncos and Ravens.

COLTS: Starting strong safety Mike Doss, who has a sprained left ankle, participated in drills Friday and is questionable. He will be a game-time decision.

If he can't start, rookie Donald Strickland likely would replace him for the second straight game. Strickland, a cornerback in college, started seven games at free safety when Idrees Bashir dislocated his right shoulder before replacing Doss last weekend.

Linebacker Marcus Washington practiced and is expected to start. Washington's injury remains a mystery. It was announced as bruised ribs. Washington then said he hurt his shoulder and has been listed on the injury report with a sore chest.

PATRIOTS: Assistants Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis used an off day to interview for head-coaching jobs.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank and general manager Rich McKay were in Foxboro on Thursday to speak with Crennel, the fourth defensive coordinator to interview.

Giants officials also were in Foxboro, meeting with Crennel and offensive coordinator Weis. Both are former Giants assistants under Bill Parcells.

Crennel also met Wednesday with Bears general manager Jerry Angelo.

Crennel is in his third season as Patriots defensive coordinator and the final season of his contract. Arizona and Buffalo also received permission to speak with Crennel.

Weis, who has a year left on his contract, also will interview for the Buffalo job.

RAVENS: Coach Brian Billick hopes Baltimore is ready mentally to face Tennessee. "My biggest concern right now is the emotional fatigue this team has gone through," he said. "We'll have to rebound that way. Physically, we'll be fine. But getting them back emotionally is important."

In their last playoff meeting, the Ravens won 24-10 on Jan. 7, 2001. Baltimore safety Anthony Mitchell returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown in a division playoff at Tennessee. Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis had a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

TITANS: Should Tennessee be worried about going against Jamal Lewis, who gained 2,066 yards, second best in NFL history? If anyone can handle him, it's the Titans. The run defense is the league's best, allowing 80.9 yards per game.

"He's probably the closest thing that anyone has seen to Jim Brown," Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "That's a big compliment, but it is what it is."

Only the Colts' Edgerrin James topped 100 rushing yards against the Titans. Tennessee held the Panthers' Stephen Davis to 23 yards, the Saints' Deuce McAllister to 23 and the Dolphins' Ricky Williams to 37.

The defense has not allowed a first-quarter touchdown in 21 of the past 25 games.

[Last modified January 3, 2004, 01:33:24]


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