Now it really feels just like the 2000 season all over again for the Tennessee Titans.
That was the season Tennessee posted the NFL's best record at
13-3 and earned the AFC's No. 1 seed with home-field advantage -
just like this year. Tampa is hosting the Super Bowl, just like in
2000. And the Baltimore Ravens added to the deja vu feeling Sunday
by beating Miami 27-9 to earn a trip to Music City for an AFC
divisional playoff game next Saturday.
The Ravens won that 2000 divisional playoff game 24-10 en route
to their Super Bowl championship.
The Titans? Well, they are targeting an eventual trip to Tampa,
too, in what will be a rematch of a 13-10 win over the Ravens in
Baltimore on Oct. 5.
"Now that we know our opponent, we have a tremendous challenge
ahead of us," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said in a statement Sunday.
"Baltimore has improved in all areas since we saw them earlier
this season. They are built around a strong run game and a great
defense, which reminds us of the classic matchups against them in
This won't be the first time these teams have met in the
playoffs since that divisional showdown. Tennessee went to
Baltimore for a wild-card game in the 2003 season and beat the
Ravens on their field 20-17, a win that provided some small
redemption for Steve McNair and Eddie George.
While the Ravens still feature a key player from that 2000
playoff win in Ray Lewis, Baltimore now has ex-Titans cornerback
Samari Rolle, receiver Derrick Mason and fullback Lorenzo Neal on
The only Titans still in Tennessee who played in that painful
loss are punter Craig Hentrich, defensive end Jevon Kearse in his
second stint with the team, and linebacker Keith Bulluck. The
linebacker was a rookie then and played only special teams, in
goal-line situations and in extra linebacker packages.
Before knowing they would play Baltimore, Bulluck said he's sure
the Titans will talk about how much work they've put in to get to
"These opportunities don't come across too often, so we'll
definitely get that point across," Bulluck said.
"Right now we've really got to look at it as a three-game
season for us. We take one game at a time. Most games that we can
play in this season are three. The approach that we have to take is
very serious, and plus, it's not too often you get to this point.
The 2003 season, we went to the AFC championship. Albert and
myself, we haven't been back since."
That would be Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who
missed the final two games of the regular season with a sprained
left knee. Fisher said during halftime of the Ravens' win over
Miami that Haynesworth and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, who
missed the last three games with an injured groin, would practice
That will provide a big boost to a Titans defense that ranked
second in the NFL in fewest points allowed. The Titans are
scheduled to return Monday from a weekend off and practice Tuesday.
Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae will be the big question for the
Titans. He hurt his right elbow late in the Titans' 31-14 win over
Pittsburgh on Dec. 21, sat out the finale at Indianapolis and did
not practice during the team's bye week. He will be a key against
the Ravens in helping protect quarterback Kerry Collins.
"He may be questionable going into this game ... probably be
day to day with him," Fisher said.