Originally created 01/04/01

Titans trying to avoid 'tongue wrasslin'



NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If it's a "tongue-wrasslin" battle the Baltimore Ravens want, they'll have to look elsewhere. The Tennessee Titans refuse to play.

The defending AFC champions watched as the Ravens celebrated their wild-card victory over Denver last weekend, and they listened as announcers relayed Baltimore coach Brian Billick's thoughts that the winner of that game would head to the Super Bowl.

The Ravens pointed out how they are the only team - ever - to win at the Titans' Adelphia Coliseum, and Ravens wide receiver Patrick Johnson added more trash talk by saying the Titans were "just a lot of hype."

None of the Titans are talking back before Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game.

"That's their nature," Titans quarterback Steve McNair said of the Ravens. "We're a team that's going to go out and just play football. We don't get caught up in that. They're a great team. They've got a reason to talk."

Defensive end Kenny Holmes said the Titans will respond as they do every week.

"Show up on Sunday and go to work and leave the talking to the other team and let them win the tongue-wrasslin' battle. Nine out of 10 times, we win the war on the field," Holmes said.

None of the Ravens' comments have been posted in the Titans' locker room. There has been no need.

"We saw how they acted after the game," defensive tackle John Thornton said. "We're going to be excited to go out there and play."

The Ravens were in damage-control mode on Wednesday, with safety Rod Woodson saying that Johnson told him his comment was taken out of context. Billick also defended his comments in a conference call with Nashville reporters, saying it should be news if a coach or player in the playoffs doesn't think his team can go to the Super Bowl.

"It's kind of fun to be at this level with one another," Billick said. "There's going to be a little bit of chest-thumping going on on both sides of the ball."

Not from the Titans.

Linebacker Randall Godfrey said the Titans haven't been told to keep their mouths shut and that they just have a different style under coach Jeff Fisher, who never gives opponents any comment worthy of posting on a bulletin board.

"All year, teams have been talking trash some," Godfrey said. "We've been doing our own thing - going out and playing our type of ball and not worrying about what people are saying about us. It's been paying off, so we've got to just continue doing what we've been doing."

Ask the Titans if they're surprised by what they've heard from Baltimore, and they answer that the Ravens are a great defense with great players, a team that has their full respect.

Fisher said the Ravens, winners of eight straight, have every reason to be confident with very high expectations.

There's more to be found in what is not said.

"What do you do?" asked Titans fullback Lorenzo Neal. "You can't talk. Sunday you'll get to see what happens. We're playing it on Sunday, not during the week. We're just going to go out and play hard and let the chips fall where they may. Go out and execute and play hard ball.

"They're the one with the great defense, all the stars. We can't run. We're just up against it. We'll try to scratch and claw and try to get us a win."

On the Net:

Titans: www.titansonline.com