Mediocre offensive show enough for Ravens

Monday, January 8, 2001 at 1:00am

A JOB ... DONE: Baltimore quarterback Trent Dilfer has been the starter for 10 games, the last nine of them victories. In this one he was just five-for-16 passing for 117 yards. He was sacked three times but did not fumble or throw an interception.

�From an offensive standpoint, Trent Dilfer didn�t do anything to hurt his team,� Tennessee safety Marcus Robertson said. �We put pressure on him and got a couple sacks but ... he didn�t put the ball on the floor. For the most part, we didn�t have many opportunities for interceptions.

Dilfer had completed at least 52 percent of his passes in all but one of his victories but had thrown nine interceptions in the final six regular-season games.

In a wild card victory over Denver, he threw for just 130 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

�I�ve found the best way not to turn the ball over is to not think about it,� Dilfer said. �You just go out there, make plays, see what you throw and throw what you see.

�Our stats have been ugly offensively, but this is a talented group of guys. I can�t get over what a good football team this is. We just continue to find ways to get the job done.�

PENALTY PROBLEMS: The Titans were called for six penalties for 55 yards - more than in all but one of last season�s playoff contests. Three were against Dainon Sidney on special teams - all in the second half.

The third-year cornerback missed the final four games of the regular season with a hamstring injury.

�It was pretty rough,� he said. �I just wanted to do my best and I tried to overcompensate. I was just trying to make plays�

The first call against Sidney was for holding on a punt return with 7:10 to play n the first quarter. It cost Tennessee half the distance to the goal and set up the offense with first down at the six. When the Titans were forced to punt after just three plays, Sidney interfered with returner Jermaine Lewis, which cost 15 yards and gave the Ravens possession at the Tennessee 40. Then in the fourth quarter he was hit with a personal foul for blocking a player out of bounds during a return, which cost the Titans another 15 yards.

�(After that) I was just trying to keep Dainon out of critical situations for the rest of the game,� coach Jeff Fisher said.

ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Defensive end Kenny Holmes is scheduled for free agency following the season. If this was his last game for the Titans, one of the lasting images will be one he�d rather forget.

On the next-to-last-snap of the third quarter, with the score tied 10-10, he dropped into coverage and had a pass intended for Qadry Ismail hit him right in the hands but dropped it.

�I had a difference-making play in the game and dropped the ball,� Holmes said. �It�s going to be with me for a while - a couple months, until I get back to minicamp and work on what I need to work on. This is going to be a motivating factor for me, at least - not being able to make the big play when I needed to the most.�

FILLING IN: Both starting quarterbacks left the game briefly because of injuries, and both backups - Neil O�Donnell for Tennessee and Tony Banks for Baltimore - got to attempt one pass. O�Donnell connected with Derrick Mason for 19 yards on a third-and-6 on the third of his four plays. Banks threw incomplete for fullback Sam Gash on third-and-8 on his only snap.

BRIEFLY: Sunday�s game was the lowest scoring AFC Divisional playoff contest in three years. ... Eddie George�s touchdown run on the game�s opening possession was his fourth in postseason play, which tied Earl Campbell for the franchise record. George is the only Tennessee player to score a touchdown in the divisional round each of the last two years. ... McNair�s 24 completions was his most in a playoff game surpassing his 22 in Super Bowl XXXIV. One completion was to himself on a ball batted in the air by defensive end Rob Burnett. The play lost 10 yards. ... Ravens running back Jamal Lewis was held to 47 yards rushing, his fewest since Oct. 15 at Washington.

- David Boclair

David Boclair covers pro sports for the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.

Filed under: City News