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Ravens pumped for Jags matchup

By ERNEST HOOPER

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2000


Jacksonville enters today's game against Baltimore just trying to survive, while the Ravens are treating the Week 2 matchup like a Super Bowl.

Baltimore has been tabbed as one of the teams that can make a surprising run into the playoffs, much like St. Louis and Tennessee did last season and Atlanta did in 1998. Such talk will ring hollow, however, if Baltimore loses its ninth consecutive game to Jacksonville. The Jaguars have never lost to this franchise, winning two games against Cleveland in 1995 and eight in a row since the franchise moved to Baltimore for the next season.

Ravens coach Brian Billick is concerned about his team attaching too much importance to the game.

"We have to be a little careful we don't overreact to the importance of this game, but it is clearly important to this franchise to beat Jacksonville if we want to step up to the next level," Billick said.

The Jaguars are likely to be without running back Fred Taylor and backup Stacey Mack, and tight end Damon Jones was placed on injured reserve. Tackle Tony Boselli played last week but he is still recuperating from his '99 knee injury. Tackle Leon Searcy remains sidelined until at least November.

"I'm reading the same quotes you are," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said. "This is a big game and it's a big game for us, too. It's the second game of the season and a big divisional game."

OUCH: Raiders defensive tackle Darrell Russell declined to join his teammates in throwing praise to Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning.

Quarterback Rich Gannon called Manning a "throwback," receiver Tim Brown called him "smart" and "passionate" and coach Jon Gruden said he has "ice in his veins."

Russell, however, sounded more like a Gator fan when asked to assess Manning.

"Although a lot of people pump him up and he's looked at as one of the premiere quarterbacks, if you look at his track record, he can't really win the big game," said Russell, a Southern Cal grad. "He never won the SEC (title). He didn't win too many bowl games. He never came close to winning a national championship. He never won the big game in college and he hasn't done it now."

KURT WON'T BE CURT: Kurt Warner said he has no ill will toward Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, who cut Warner when he was the Packers coach in 1994.

Warner was the fourth quarterback behind Brett Favre, Mark Brunell and Ty Detmer.

"He was with us in Green Bay for a very brief time," Holmgren said. "I would like to say I had a profound effect on his career, but I can't. Kurt came in as the fourth quarterback, and they don't get much of a chance. I think there is a good example of never forgetting the other quarterback."

Warner said Favre and Brunell used to call him "Chachi" from the character in Happy Days and "Pops" as in "Pop Warner."

"Mark Brunell when I saw him over at the Pro Bowl, the first thing he said to me was, "Pops, what is happening?' " Warner said.

RESIGNATION?: Emotional Kansas City coach Gunther Cunningham told his team he was ready to quit after a 27-14 loss to Indianapolis, but wife Rene convinced him not to.

Said Mrs. Cunningham, kiddingly: "I kind of slapped him around. I said, "Wake up. You're a football coach.' That's all."

On Wednesday, Cunningham said the remarks were taken out of context.

"There are things you say to the team from week to week to motivate them and get them to understand how you feel and that if they feel bad, you want them to understand you feel just as bad as they do.

"That game meant a lot to me personally for a lot of reasons," added Cunningham in a reference to the pregame tribute to Derrick Thomas. "You can make of it what you want. I will tell you I was very emotional about the city of Kansas City. I want to bring a winner to them. It was an emotional thing with me with Derrick."

ET CETERA: Five years ago, 15 of the league's 30 starting quarterbacks were older than 30. Last Sunday, 23 of the 31 were younger than 30. ... The last time Washington and Detroit met, in the playoffs, a brawl broke out and 23 Redskins and Lions were fined a record $154,000. ... Denver running back Olandis Gary carried three times for 39 yards after tearing the ACL in his right knee. He's out for the season. ... Shortly after the team's colors and logo were unveiled, Houstontexans.com received 2,000 hits a second. The site overloaded so badly that fans had to wait hours to connect, according to the team's web company. ... Former Gators quarterback Doug Johnson will back up Chris Chandler today because of former FSU quarterback Dan Kanell has an injured finger.

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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