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Ravens follow 2000's script

January 06, 2009|By DAVID GINSBURG

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens opened the playoffs just as they did the last time they won in the postseason: With a road victory against the Miami Dolphins.

For an encore, the Ravens will seek to replicate another past playoff feat that ranks as one of their most memorable postseason performances.

Baltimore's 27-9 win over the Dolphins on Sunday set up a second-round matchup on the road against the top-seeded Tennessee Titans this Saturday. Placed in an identical scenario during the 2000 playoffs, the Ravens pulled off a 24-10 upset to earn a berth in the AFC championship.

Baltimore won the Super Bowl that season.

The Ravens have vastly changed since then. Brian Billick was the head coach, Trent Dilfer played quarterback and safety Rod Woodson, not Ed Reed, served as the last line of defense. Linebacker Ray Lewis and kicker Matt Stover are the only two Ravens who suited for the game and will play Saturday.

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So, when asked Monday if Baltimore could draw upon history to pull off another shocker as a wild-card team, coach John Harbaugh said, "I don't think so."

That doesn't mean Lewis, Stover and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan won't share their memories of that trip to Tennessee in the locker room this week.

"The guys who were part of that can draw on that," Harbaugh said. "Rex has talked about that with me, and I've talked to Ray about that. I know they talk to different guys about it. It's neat. I think it's something that's positive. But this is a new year. That's a long time ago. This is two new football teams."

Harbaugh went so far as to suggest that the first meeting between Tennessee and Baltimore this season, a 13-10 Titans victory, has no bearing on the rematch.

"We're different football teams from the first time we played them, so I don't think that will have any relevance in this game," he said.

While Tennessee had last weekend off, a reward for earning the top seed, Baltimore provided the Titans with something to think about. The Ravens forced five turnovers and took control when Reed returned an interception for a touchdown for a 10-3 lead.

Despite entering as the sixth seed and although they were playing the AFC East champions on the road, Baltimore was a favorite in Miami. The Ravens fulfilled that role, dominating the Dolphins for their first playoff win since a 20-3 victory in Miami during the 2002 postseason.

This week, however, Baltimore will be the underdog. But the Ravens aren't conceding anything. As far as they're concerned, a trip to Tennessee is just another step on the road to Tampa for the Super Bowl.

"That's what I've been trying to tell people. Now people are finally listening," Ryan said. "We know where we're at. We expect to win it all, so we'll see. We know we've got a tough one in Tennessee, but we ain't afraid of nobody."

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