The Baltimore Ravens will carefully watch the film of Sunday's 14-11 loss to Tennessee. They can expect to see the Titans' defensive game plan again, probably in their next game.
Tennessee repeatedly put eight defenders on the line to deny Baltimore's running game. They were willing to risk getting beat by quarterback Stoney Case's passing, and that gamble paid off for Tennessee. The Ravens' next opponent after this week's bye, the Kansas City Chiefs, likely will use the same tactic.
"Their defense made it very clear that they were going to . . . make it very difficult to run," Baltimore Coach Brian Billick said. Tennessee's philosophy was "if you're going to beat us, you're going to have to beat us outside. We're not going to let you shove Errict Rhett at us for 35 runs, 150 yards. . . . It's a philosophy that if I were in their shoes I would have played it the same way. We're going to face it again a number of times, most notably against Kansas City."
Rhett, who has been the Ravens' workhorse on offense, did what he could against a tough eight-man front and behind a depleted offensive line. But he rarely broke free for big gains because the passing game was not a threat.
Case struggled against the Titans, completing 15 of 37 passes for 207 yards. He did a better job involving more of his receivers--Jermaine Lewis had his most productive game of the season, four catches for 58 yards--but came up short in crucial situations.
In the second quarter, Case hurried the exchange with center Jeff Mitchell and fumbled away the ball on what was his strongest drive of the game. In the fourth quarter, he tried to carry the ball on third and one and was stopped.
"A great deal is always going to fall on the quarterback, but it wasn't Stoney who clipped on the last play," Billick said. "It wasn't Stoney who dropped the ball in the end zone. It wasn't Stoney who peeked at the quarterback and gave up a touchdown. . . . He did some excellent things [Sunday], some things I don't know if the other quarterbacks could have done as effectively. He showed improvement in a number of areas."
Billick remains loyal to Case, saying he has no intention of making a switch at quarterback anytime soon.
"I can't change quarterbacks every time a guy throws an incompletion," Billick said. "I have faith in the young man. I see enough potential there that we are going to work through some of the tough times with him."
Despite his team's failure to take advantage of an NFL-record 212 penalty yards by Tennessee, Billick was able to glean some positives from the loss. The defense played well. The reshuffled offensive line hit hard by injuries performed admirably. Case did not throw an interception for the second game in a row.
The Ravens do not play again until Oct. 21 against Kansas City. The break gives their injured players time to heal. Tackles Jonathan Ogden (cervical strain), Harry Swayne (leg contusion), Tony Siragusa (knee) and Larry Webster (turf toe) are expected to be limited in practice this week.
"Right now the prognosis for everybody is very good," Billick said. "We may have a few guys lay low."