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Ravens Slip Past Titans on Late FG; 13-10

When it’s one and done you do whatever you can to get to the next round and to borrow a term from March Madness, you simply survive and advance.

And that’s what Baltimore did last night as they edged the Tennessee Titans 13-10 on the strength of Matt Stover’s 43 yd Field goal with 53 seconds left.

By no means was this a pretty game but a few things tell the story. The Titans moved the ball extremely well and racked up almost 400 yards of Total offense. Chris Johnson especially looked fresh as he rushed for 72 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. But, his injury late in the second half put the running game in the hands of LenDale White and that proved to big a big break as White was rarely able to get past the line of scrimmage. But even as the Titans moved the ball turnovers did them in time and again, weather it was a pick thrown by Kerry Collins, or a fumble by White. They came at crucial times and refused them the chance for points on the board.

Penalties were also another issue. During their first contest both teams combined for 21 and they missed the old mark by one this time around. This was an ugly, brutal contest and it was clear that points were going to be hard to come by.

Baltimore was able to take advantage of their opportunities, while the Titans could not. Joe Flacco answered the Titans first touchdown run with a 48 yard strike down the sidelines to Derrick Mason to knot up the score at 7. The scoreboard didn’t come alive again until it was Flacco again with a big pass, this time a 34 yd pass to Mark Clayton to the Tennessee four. This set up a Stover field goal to give the Ravens a 10-7 lead early in the Fourth Quarter.

Rob Bironas’ 27-yarder with 4:23 left in regulation tied it at 10.

But, Flacco had one big play left on third down he hit Todd Heap over the middle with a 23 yard pass to set the game winning field goal.

When you try and make a run toward the Super Bowl it helps to get some breaks and I agree that the officials missed the play clock sitting at zero on that third down play. No question in my mind. But maybe this proves to a lot of people that their is no NFL conspiracy against any team, just human beings who run the game that can make mistakes. Considering some of the calls that have gone against Baltimore this season this one went in their favor.

Now the team anxiously awaits the victor of the Pittsburgh-San Diego to play for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. I have a feeling whom they might want to face off with next Sunday.

Points to Ponder

-This had the feeling of so many games that the Ravens would lose to other teams in the past. They would dominate the stats but not the scoreboard. The numbers here hurt your eyes. Total Yards; TEN -391, BAL -211 – Rushing Yards; TEN- 116, BAL – 50 – T.O.P; TEN-34:07 , BAL- 25:53

But again the keys here were turnovers, Tennessee’s ball security, in the words of Dan Dierdorf was abysmal, 5 Fumbles (2 lost), 1 interception. If the Titans make a play or two they win the game.

-Which brings me to young Joe Flacco who looked as if he was ready to fall asleep on the sidelines at points. He made 3 important throws yesterday and that’s all they needed. His TD to Mason showed off impressive arm strength. His leadership and calm are inspiring. He will have another hurdle next week. But if he sticks to the formula the team has a legitimate shot to go back to Tampa.

-The defense was bend but don’t break all game long. But there were plenty of individuals to note in the effort. Bart Scott led the team with 9 tackles and Ray Lewis had 8. Lots of hitting to help slow the run. Jim Leohnard, who may get my vote as top FA pickup this season, had 5 stops of his own and caused a fumble. A few of his tackles were game savers.

-I have to mention the receivers, Mason, Clayton, and Heap. They made the most of their chances. Clayton’s concentration of the long pass to the four was solid and Heap’s catch helped atone for an earlier drop. This unit must go the same way as Flacco, they have their struggles at times but came up big in the clutch yesterday.

-Terrell Suggs. We will have check his status during the week as he left with a strained shoulder. Great job by others like Edgar Jones and Jameel McClain to help plug the gaps but we need Sizzle for next week.

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