By MARC TOPKIN and JOANNE KORTH
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 28, 2001
TAMPA -- All Super Bowl week, the Ravens have heard about what their offense can't do, that Trent Dilfer can't be trusted, that Jamal Lewis is wearing down, that they lack the weapons to be successful.
But, coach Brian Billick would like to point out, there is one thing it definitely can do -- win games.
"This offense has done what it's needed to do to win," Billick said. "That sounds awful minimalist in its approach, but throughout the year if we've had to score a lot of points to win, we've done that; if we've had to march the length of the field in the last two minutes, we've done that; if we've had to control the tempo of the game, keep it away from the opposing offense, just not turn the ball over, move it down the field and punt it down inside the 10, we've done that.
"So we're prepared to at least put ourselves into a mode to do whatever we have to win the game, however that pans out."
Teammates don't usually have much respect for kickers, but defensive tackle Tony Siragusa has butted in to help Matt Stover prepare for pressure situations.
"Goose gets in my ear at practice and tries to throw me off my game," Stover said. "One time when I was kicking, he pulled his pants down and gave me a big moon shine. If I can handle that, I can handle anything. And I nailed it.
"He said, "Okay, I give up.' "
Stover was an integral part of Baltimore's success, especially during five games in October when the offense failed to score a touchdown. The Ravens won two of those games, 12-0 and 15-10, as Stover scored 42 consecutive points.
"You know how they say kickers are not part of the team until they kick, and they better make that kick? Well, Matt is a part of the team," safety Rod Woodson said. "But he still can't hang out."
The way Billick tries to tell the media how to do its job, you'd think he had a degree in journalism -- which he does from Brigham Young. While some coaches prefer to ignore what is written and broadcast about their teams, or at least claim they do, Billick pays close attention.
"In today's game, you just can't do that," he said. "I hope you understand what I'm saying here: "If you don't control the media, the media will control you.' When I say, "control the media,' if you're not aware of what their posture is, if you're not aware of what their agenda is, you're going to have a tough time helping your players prepare for whatever their agenda may be.
"I can't get you to write what I want you to write or stay away from a particular issue. I'm not that naive. But what I can do is set certain parameters for the team and make it very clear with the media that I interact with that I'm going to be receptive, I'm going to be open, I'll be interactive. ... But if you say something that's inaccurate or wrong or I think has an agenda or can hurt this team, I'm going to confront you with it."
Ray Lewis was born in Bartow, went to high school in Lakeland and played collegiately at Miami. But, in his unique view, he hadn't had an opportunity to play professionally in the Sunshine State until September's game against the Dolphins. "The closest I'd ever come to playing in Florida was in Jacksonville," Lewis said.
The news that Giants tight end Pete Mitchell was voted sexiest Super Bowl player by online dating service udate.com apparently was a major disappointment to the 342-pound Siragusa. "People haven't seen me in the right clothes," he said.