Six years have passed since the Ravens and Tennessee Titans occupied the same division, but you could hardly tell by the hostility that played out during the Ravens' 13-10 loss to the Titans at M&T; Bank Stadium yesterday.
The teams combined for 21 penalties for 169 yards, and six involved unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct.
"Any time that we enter a game, we understand that it's going to be physical," said Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton, who was on a receiving end of a blow to the face by strong safety Chris Hope in the first quarter that earned Hope a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. "And when it gets physical, sometimes emotions flare. Guys get into it. And that's football. That's fine."
Running back Willis McGahee, linebacker Terrell Suggs and cornerback Corey Ivy were whistled for unnecessary roughness in the first half. In addition to Hope, Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and cornerback Cortland Finnegan drew an unnecessary roughness and a late-hit-out-of-bounds penalty, respectively, in the third quarter.
And that doesn't include offsetting personal fouls on Finnegan and wide receiver Derrick Mason.
Ravens linebacker Bart Scott said Titans coach Jeff Fisher might have upped the ante with his players by recalling the days when the Ravens and Tennessee were in the AFC Central before being separated after the 2002 season.
"We just looked at it as a tough opponent, an opportunity for our defense to measure up against their defense and play that way," Scott said. "But for them, it may have been different because of the bad blood between Jeff Fisher and [former Ravens coach Brian] Billick. So I'm assuming they had a different mind-set preparing for the game."
The Ravens finished with 11 penalties for 91 yards - season highs in each category.
"It was a very physical game, and we have to do a better job at the key moments of holding our composure and being able to finish games like that," Ravens offensive tackle Willie Anderson said. "Emotions are going to run high, and at key moments, we've got to be able to hold our composure better."
Coach John Harbaugh defended his decision to send in kicker Matt Stover to attempt a 45-yard field goal rather than run an offensive play with 14 seconds left in the second quarter and the score tied at 3.
Stover's kick sailed wide right, but Harbaugh said the decision was "easy."
"If you're sitting there with 14 seconds [left], so many things can happen that aren't good that take you out of field-goal range," he said. "You've got the possibility of a sack. You've got the possibility of a completion inbounds, and if the clock runs out, we've got no timeouts. So the chances of scoring a touchdown are minimal. And you have to score a touchdown to improve your position. So we've got a pretty sure three, we think. We kick the field goal. To me, that's a no-brainer."
Right offensive tackle Adam Terry sprained his right knee late in the second quarter, and cornerback Fabian Washington sprained his right shoulder late in the third. Neither player returned to the game, and both are scheduled to have magnetic resonance imaging today to determine the severity of the injuries.
Anderson is expected to start at right tackle if Terry can't play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, but Anderson said Terry did not look bad in the locker room after the game.
"He was upbeat, and I expect him to get back in there," Anderson said. "As soon as he gets healthy, he'll be back in the starting lineup."
Injuries to Mason (left thumb) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (hand) were not believed to be serious.
All in the family
Finnegan not only came to blows with Mason, but he also got into it with his own teammate.
After Finnegan was flagged for a late hit out of bounds on McGahee, Finnegan and linebacker Keith Bulluck exchanged a few words before Bulluck delivered a two-handed shove to Finnegan.
"Those things are going to happen," said Bulluck, who continued the argument on the sideline. "I think we're OK now. We're brothers on the defense."
Finnegan added: "He's my teammate. I have no hard feelings."
Harbaugh successfully challenged an initial ruling that David Thornton had maintained possession of an apparent interception of rookie quarterback Joe Flacco late in the first quarter. Harbaugh is 2-for-2 on challenges. ... Defensive tackle Justin Bannan recorded his first career interception when he caught a pass batted by Haloti Ngata in the first quarter. "It happened so fast," Bannan said. "Before I knew it, I had a ball in my hand. ... It's always good to get a present like that." ... Cornerback Frank Walker, filling in for Washington, appeared to have recorded his first interception as a Raven late in the third quarter, but Walker was whistled for holding wide receiver Chris Davis. "All I did was jam him, and I was within 5 yards," Walker said. "But the ref made the call. All I could do was keep playing ball." ... The Ravens deactivated cornerbacks Samari Rolle (neck surgery) and Derrick Martin (shoulder), strong safety Dawan Landry (spinal cord concussion), defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (left knee), rookie offensive tackles Oniel Cousins and David Hale and rookie wide receiver Marcus Smith. Troy Smith (tonsil infection) was the third (emergency) quarterback. Rolle stood on the sideline with a brace around his neck. ... The Titans deactivated starting wide receiver Justin Gage (knee) and fellow receiver Paul Williams, running back Chris Henry, cornerback Reynaldo Hill, offensive tackle Mike Otto, defensive end William Hayes, defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson and punter Josh Miller. Miller was signed Saturday as an insurance policy for Craig Hentrich, who has been battling a sore back. ... Michael Phelps served as an honorary captain during the coin toss before the game.