Wright Sparks Ravens

You can't blame Steelers fans for being a bit befuddled and maybe a bit envious as the NFL season draws to a close. The Steelers won't make the playoffs and it looks like the hated Baltimore Ravens will. The Ravens can win the AFC North with a win over the Steelers or a loss by Cincinnati.

The befuddling part is who is spurring the Ravens on down the stretch - a quarterback named Anthony Wright. Wright, a Steelers castoff who couldn't beat out Tee Martin for a roster spot in 2000, will make his seventh consecutive start for the Ravens Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in a nationally televised game against the Steelers.

Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick went with Wright in the starting lineup Nov. 16 and believes Wright can lead the Ravens into the playoffs.

"He has a good, strong arm and a good grasp of what we are doing," Billick said. "When it is a tight game -- how we are playing now -- that puts a lot on a quarterback and he is doing a good job of learning how he has to manage that type of game."

Wright who replaced the injured Kyle Boller at quarterback has always had faith in his abilities. Wright was inserted in place of Boller instead of the second string QB Chris Redman.

"Of course I envisioned this," said Wright, who is 4-2 as a starter. "I never stopped having the vision of taking this team to the promised land, which is in Houston [site of the Super Bowl]."

Wright has had a couple of less-than-stellar showings recently. He has failed to reach 200 yards passing in each of the team's four previous games, while also throwing as many touchdown passes (five) as interceptions and completing 48.3 percent of his throws. But he has managed to get the job done.

"He started with confidence, but as we've won some games and he's played a little bit better," quarterbacks/receivers coach David Shaw told the Baltimore Sun.  "His confidence has continued to grow. His knowledge, not just of our offense, but of what defenses are doing against us, which is really key, has started to grow, too."

Wright joined the Steelers in 1999 as an undrafted rookie with a gimpy knee, but a rifle arm. The team kept four quarterbacks that year, and Wright never got in a game on a Steelers team that finished 6-10. Wright was with Dallas in 2001.

Wright knows that this is the most important game of his five-year career, but knows he has been down that road before in games against the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals. "Every game is a big game. How many times am I'm going to hear this?

"I like playing with pressure because it forces me to intensify my focus," Wright explained to the Baltimore Sun. "I've always been that way. Whether it's been a pressure situation, coach in my ear or player in my ear, that drives me. I love it."

Going up against the team that gave up on him only gives Wright added incentive.

"I've been waiting for this one, trust me," he said. "It's finally here."

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