Baltimore Ravens fans greet defensive tackle Tony Siragusa as the team returned to Baltimore on Sunday.
By JOHN ROMANO and TIMES WIRES
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 9, 2001
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ravens owner Art Modell said he was disappointed in the outspoken comments his team made before the divisional playoff game against Tennessee. He ain't heard nothing yet.
Even though the Ravens had Monday off, it didn't stop them from starting the verbal war early.
Backup receiver and special teams player Billy Davis showed up at the team's complex and got the ball rolling with his characterization of Oakland fans. Raiders fans are among the most hostile in the league, and Davis said he got a first-hand look during trips to the Oakland Coliseum with the Cowboys.
"They attacked our bus when we pulled in. It looked like something out of a Mad Max movie or a big transvestite party," Davis said. "The fans are right on top of you in that stadium and security doesn't do (squat) about it. They let them do what they want. I guess because they're afraid of the fans too."
Ravens coach Brian Billick also joked about Oakland fans, calling them "enthusiastic."
"I'm not going to walk from the hotel to the stadium, I'll tell you that," Billick said.
The Titans tried to use some of Billick's outspoken comments as a motivator last week, and the Raiders appear to be heading in the same direction. Billick was quoted two weeks ago as saying the winner of the Denver-Baltimore game would be the AFC representative in the Super Bowl.
"I know coach Billick is a good coach, a smart coach," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. "But if I'm not mistaken, this next game decides it."
EARLY TEST: The Raiders started getting ready for the Ravens' tough defense Saturday, when they stymied the Dolphins.
The Raiders attacked Miami's sixth-ranked defense and came away with a 27-0 victory.
"I think Miami was great preparation," Gruden said. "Miami's a team that we all know has great defensive personnel and great team speed and athleticism.
"But this is another challenge. They play a little different approach to defense, and we're going to have to study hard to be prepared."
The Ravens allowed 165 points over 16 regular-season games, an NFL record. They finished the season with the league's second-best overall defense to the Titans.
"They're a huge front that can also move real well," Oakland center Barret Robbins said. "They free their linebackers up, which is a tremendous thing for them. They run sideline to sideline with anybody.
"It's like hitting a brick wall, you just have to keep trying to hit it and trying to hit it to try to penetrate it," he said.
DEJA VU?: The Giants and the Raiders, the home teams for the conference championships, both won their last Super Bowls in Tampa.
INJURIES: Ravens safety Kim Herring could be healthy again for the Oakland game after being hobbled with an ankle injury the past two weeks. On the other hand, linebacker Cornell Brown strained his hamstring against Tennessee and will be evaluated Wednesday.
Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer has gone two straight playoff games without throwing an interception. Of course, Dilfer completed only five passes against the Titans.
"Five? Was that all? I knew it wasn't many," Dilfer said. "At least I didn't complete one to the other team."
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