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AFC notebook

By JOHN ROMANO and BRUCE LOWITT

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 8, 2001


Pregame montage irks Billick

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- He made several jokes about it afterward, but Baltimore coach Brian Billick also made it clear he was angry about the video presentation put on the stadium scoreboard before the game Sunday.

The Titans spliced together several clips of Billick talking about the Ravens going to the Super Bowl. Billick said the clips were taken out of context because they were shot in locker rooms after victories against Tennessee (in the regular season) and Denver (in the playoffs) when his emotions were running high.

"That was as classless an act as I've seen in the NFL," he said. "If that's what the league wants, then fine. If they want things taken out of context and sensationalized in front of a hostile crowd, that's fine. But I'd be very surprised if the person who did that was not called on the carpet for it."

MUTUAL RESPECT: It was Ray Lewis' job to find Eddie George. The NFL's defensive player of the year shadowed the Titans running back all afternoon and made several jarring hits. On several occasions, the rivals mouthed off to each other at the end of the play.

Afterward, it was George who sought out Lewis. He went into the visitors' locker room and embraced Lewis and safety Rod Woodson.

"That tells you what kind of guy he is," Woodson said. "As hard as we fought on the field, he still had the class to come in here and wish us luck next week."

OLIVE GREEN IS IN: In a show of unity, Baltimore's defensive linemen dressed in identical army camouflage uniforms and left the locker room together after the game. "I don't know if that was a fashion statement or not," Billick said. "Maybe that's all they can afford."

FROM NONE TO TWO: Chris Coleman's second block of a Kyle Richardson punt came early in the third quarter, 4:16 after the first. The first came more than 11 years after the team's last post-season blocked field goal. Bubba McDowell did it for the Houston Oilers on Dec. 31, 1989, against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Despite being on the opposition, Titans kicker Al Del Greco said he couldn't really root against Richardson. "You never want the other guy to do bad because you know what he feels like, and you know what he feels like when he does well. (The media) say we're weird and flaky and all. I don't think that's true anymore. I think most of the (kickers) are pretty normal, but it is a tight-knit group. Because it's positive or negative every time we go out on the field, it's just a tough, tough thing."

CATCHING CAMPBELL: George's first-quarter score was his fourth post-season rushing touchdown, tying Earl Campbell for the franchise record.

ALL IT DID WAS HURT HIS AVERAGE: A little over a minute into the second quarter, Titans quarterback Steve McNair, facing second and 9 at the Tennessee 19, rolled right and attempted a pass. Ravens left end Rob Burnett leaped and swatted it back at McNair. He caught it (officially it is listed as a pass from McNair to McNair) and stumbled, falling at the 9, a 10-yard loss.

JUST ONE DRIVE: The Titans took the opening kickoff and held the ball for 7:17, driving 68 yards in 11 plays for their only touchdown. Only once after that did Tennessee control the ball that long: a 12-play, 7:27 march in the second quarter that ended with Del Greco's blocked 45-yard field-goal try.

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