Ravens contain Co-MVP McNair until the end

BALTIMORE -- No matter how many times the Baltimore Ravens' secondary intercepted Steve McNair, they never felt like they could relax. They were correct in that judgment. The Tennessee Titans' Pro Bowl quarterback overcame an uncharacteristic three-interception outing to topple the Ravens, 20-17, in an AFC wild-card victory on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.

It marked McNair's first three-interception outing since a 13-12 loss to Baltimore last season. Yet, the co-Most Valuable Player's team advanced to the AFC divisional round and Baltimore's season is over. "McNair's a great quarterback," said free safety Will Demps, who returned an interception 56 yards for his first NFL touchdown in the first half. "We knew he was going to move and get out of the pocket and make big plays for them. When momentum went to their side, he made the big plays when they needed them." 

McNair completed all four of his passes on the Titans' game-winning drive. He located Eddie George twice and Derrick Mason and Erron Kinney once apiece to help set the table for venerable kicker Gary Anderson's 46-yard field goal. "It was a gutty effort by the whole team," 

McNair said. McNair was intercepted by Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister with 3:41 remaining. However, Baltimore was unable to capitalize on the miscue. "He's the leader of their ship and he was able to make things happen," cornerback Gary Baxter said. "He got outside the pocket and made some good throws. He's a warrior." 

Earlier in the second half, Baxter allowed a touchdown pass to Justin McCareins when McNair slipped the football underneath his tight coverage to allow McCareins to adjust to and convert a 49-yard touchdown pass. "I was step for step with the guy," Baxter said. "McNair just underthrew the ball and he undercut me. He made a great play and caught it. If it was a perfectly-thrown ball, I would have had it." 

MODELL HONORED: The Ravens inducted owner Art Modell into the club's Ring of Honor in a brief ceremony before kickoff. Modell's full name, "Arthur B. Modell" was installed in the upper deck along with former Ravens running back Earnest Byner and the Baltimore Colts' Hall of Fame selections that include the late Johnny Unitas. Alongside his wife, Pat, in his private box, Modell waved to the crowd and blew kisses in his final game as majority owner. Modell is selling control of the team to Maryland businessman and minority owner Steve Bisciotti, but plans to stay on as a consultant and, possibly, a minority shareholder. A fan held a sign aloft that read, "ABC: Art Should Be in Canton." "I don't think of this as a chapter closing or anything like that in terms of the Modells as a family," said team president David Modell, who is also expected to remain with the club in a consultant role. "I just hope this is a precursor to Art going to the Hall of Fame as he so richly deserves to be a part of." 

REUNITED: In a meeting that linked the two participants of a bizarre penalty-flag incident in 1999, Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown shook hands before kickoff with referee Jeff Triplette. Triplette accidentally hit Brown in the eye with an errantly-tossed, weighted penalty flag when Brown was playing for the Cleveland Browns. In severe pain, Brown shoved Triplette to the ground and was ejected. Brown's eyesight was damaged and he was ultimately released by Cleveland, reaching a lucrative, confidential settlement of a lawsuit filed against the NFL rumored to exceed $20 million. Before the season began, Brown said he harbored no further animosity toward Triplette. "I've put it behind me," Brown said. "If I ever see him again, I would shake his hand and give him a hug. Man, he helped me become a rich man." Brown said he's not sure if he will be asked to return as his one-year contract has expired. "I would like to come back here," he said. "Baltimore is still my first choice. I don't want to be a free agent again." 

INACTIVES: The Ravens deactivated quarterback Chris Redman, cornerback Raymond Walls, long snapper Mike Solwold, Boulware, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, offensive tackle Damion Cook, receiver Ron Johnson and tight end John Jones. The Titans deactivated quarterback Jason Gesser, cornerback Mike Echols, running back Robert Holcombe, linebacker Rocky Calmus, offensive lineman Todd Williams, receiver Jake Schifino, receiver Eddie Berlin and defensive tackle Rien Long

QUICK HITS: Anderson's 46-yard gield goal was his longest of the season. ... The last Tennessee win before Saturday was a 14-6 victory in Baltimore on Oct. 22, 2000. .. Quarterback Anthony Wright completed 5-of-6 passes for 80 yards during Baltimore's game-tying fourth-quarter drive. ... Wide receiver Travis Taylor set a Baltimore postseason record with seven receptions, gaining 82 yards.

Aaron Wilson writes for The Carroll County Times

Ravens Insider Top Stories