Ravens-Titans: Defense Seals Win, Joe Flacco Makes History

Vincent JacksonCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2009

Turnovers are the ultimate sin in the NFL, and the Tennessee Titans proved that theory.

The Ravens (13-5) forced three key turnovers (two in the red zone), and Matt Stover made the winning 41-yard field goal with 53 seconds left to advance Baltimore to its first AFC Championship game since their last Super Bowl appearance in 2001.

With the win, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (161 yards, TD) becomes the first rookie ever to win his first two playoff games.  He did not commit a turnover, and has not this post-season, even though Baltimore was held to just over 200 yards of total offense.

The Titans (13-4) took the lead off of an 8-yard run from rookie Chris Johnson.  Johnson was the offensive star of the first half but was bothered by a troublesome ankle in the second and could not contribute more. 

Flacco responded with a 48-yard touchdown to Derrick Mason and it was a defensive battle from there.

The Titans won the time of possession battle (34:07 to 25:53), gained more yards (391 to 211) and had more first downs (21 to 9) but they also finished with more turnovers. Tennessee had three giveaways in Ravens territory (one interception and two fumbles), killing drives of 13, 8, and 10 plays, respectively. 

LenDale White fumbled at the Ravens 10 at the end of the first half and tight end Alge Crumpler gave it away after making a catch out of the backfield inside the Ravens 10 with 9:08 left in the fourth quarter.

The game was also a mini-infirmary as several players went down with injuries, most significantly Ravens LB Terrell Suggs with a sprained right shoulder.

The Titans were also killed by 12 penalties for for 89 yards.  After Rob Bironas tied the game at 10 in the fourth quarter, Flacco took over at his own 24 and after an 8-yard completion to Mark Clayton that fell a yard short of a first down Stover made his winning kick.

Kerry Collins (26-of-42, 281 yards, INT) then threw three straight incompletions to end the game, giving the ball back to Baltimore on downs. 

A key group of stats were important that I found:

  • Collins vs. a rush of four or less: 18/28, 170 yards, 81.0 rating
  • Collins vs. the blitz (5+ rushers): 8/14, 106 yards, INT, 51.5 rating
  • Dolphins/Titans turnover margin in regular season: +31 (MIA: +17, TEN: +14)
  • MIA/TEN combined margin in postseason vs. BAL: -7 (MIA: -4, TEN: -3)

Baltimore will head to the winner of tomorrow's Chargers/Steelers divisional playoff.