Baltimore Ravens Coach Brian Billick today praised his team for its performance in Sunday's 41-14 victory over Tennessee. But he said the victory will become meaningless if the Ravens (5-7) don't continue to make progress when they play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
"Fate has taken care of us in terms of the progression I'd like to see," Billick said. "That's exactly the game I want to play on the road after coming off a big [home] win to truly measure, 'Okay, where are we at, guys? Have we really improved? Are we heading in the right direction? Can we sustain that?' "
After watching the game film, Billick was particularly pleased with quarterback Tony Banks, who enjoyed his most productive game of the season with four touchdown passes. Wide recever Qadry Ismail caught five passes for 113 yards in his best game since 1995. Wide receiver Jermaine Lewis broke out of a slump to enjoy his most productive game of the season with five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Priest Holmes gained 100 yards on nine carries--the fifth 100-yard rushing game of his career.
Billick said there was not much difference between what the team has been doing and what it is now doing offensively but with better success.
"We're really doing the same thing," Billick said. "We're doing it a whole lot better, with more confidence."
The defense also performed well against Tennessee, holding the Titans to one touchdown and running back Eddie George to 32 yards on eight carries. Rookie defensive back Chris McAlister prevented a Tennessee score late in the third quarter when he intercepted Steve McNair's pass in the end zone. Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary had his best game of the season with 3 1/2 sacks.
Billick is emphasizing to his team that regardless of how this season finishes, the team's success next season and beyond depends on what takes place after this win.
"If next year we indeed take that next step and we're good enough to be a playoff team, and say the next year after that we become one of the elite teams and we can win an AFC championship or go to the Super Bowl, I promise you a lot of the lessons are going to be learned in these next four and five weeks," Billick said.
Ravens Notes: A Baltimore County court commissioner has issued a summons for Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis for an incident that occurred on Nov. 30 at 1:30 a.m. at the Windsor Mill Inn. According to Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey, Katrice Sherree Parker, 24, of Woodlawn, alledges that Lewis struck her at the bar.
Billick said that Lewis will play Sunday against Pittsburgh.
"We're going to support our player as best we can given the circumstances and until someone says this is definitely what happened, neither the league nor we are going to take any action against a player," Billick said.
Lewis was not available to comment. His lawyer, Carey Delley, said, "I hope the public would remain cautious and keep an open mind."