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Ravens notebook

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 17, 2001

Favorite role not enjoyed

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Now that they've reached the Super Bowl, the Ravens are getting some respect. And they don't like it one bit.

The Ravens were installed as a 2 1/2-point favorite to beat the Giants, a sure-fire indication they have made an impression on those who never gave Baltimore a chance to get this far.

Truth is, the Ravens would prefer to milk the nobody-thinks-we're-good stance at least a couple more weeks.

"I hope everybody picks the Giants," defensive end Rob Burnett said. "I'd love to go through this whole thing with everyone against us. It would make winning it all that much sweeter."

Baltimore, a six-point underdog two weeks ago against the defending AFC champion Titans, pulled off a 24-10 upset. Then, playing against the favored Raiders on Sunday, the Ravens advanced to their first Super Bowl with a 16-3 win.

Baltimore in the Super Bowl? Much of the nation initially found it hard to fathom.

"It's finally sunk in," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "There's only two teams left out of the 31 that started the season. For the next two weeks, it's the Ravens and Giants in the Greatest Show on Earth.

"All year, we've been underdogs. You hear the sarcastic comments about us going to the Super Bowl, but it doesn't matter."

FROM GOOD TO GREAT: Tight end Shannon Sharpe said a Super Bowl win changes everything. "I know if you win this game, it changes your life forever," Sharpe said. "You'll never be viewed the same way ever, ever again."

Sharpe knows. He's been there twice with the Denver Broncos, winning Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII in 1998 and 1999.

"Before, I was just a guy who caught a lot of passes," he said. "Everybody was saying, "Yeah, he's a great pass-catching tight end.' But the minute I won that game, all of a sudden they started talking about the Hall of Fame. Then I won again, and they started mentioning it even more.

"It'll take a guy like Ray (Lewis), and it can make him one of the all-time best to ever play the game. It'll take an average guy and make him good, take a good guy and make him great, take a great guy and make the Hall of Fame. This is what this game has done for a career."

PLAYOFF RATINGS: Overnight television ratings for the conference championship game dropped from a year ago. The late game on CBS between the Ravens and Raiders for the AFC championship drew a 23.2 rating and 41 share. Last year, when CBS had the early game for the AFC title between Tennessee and Jacksonville, the rating was 4.9 percent higher, at 24.4, with a 47 share. Each ratings point represents 1,022,000 households. Share represents the percentage of television sets in use tuned to the show.

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