Baltimore 13, Tennessee 12

BALTIMORE, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Ed Reed returned a blocked punt for the game's only touchdown just 61 seconds into the contest Sunday and Baltimore forced Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair into four turnovers, giving the Ravens a 13-12 decision over the Titans.

Tennessee (6-5) had a five-game winning streak snapped while Baltimore (5-6) stayed within a game and a half of division leading Pittsburgh in the AFC North.


Despite facing a defense that was without star middle linebacker Ray Lewis (knee, shoulder), McNair struggled all day, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble.

"We got chances in the end. I think I didn't make the plays when I had to," McNair said. "That's my fault. The quarterback has to step up to the plate when his number is called and today I didn't do that."


Titans coach Jeff Fisher did not want to lay the blame on McNair.

"I think it was everybody," he said. "For some reason we just weren't as sharp as we should've been."

The Titans have lost their last five meetings with the Ravens.

"In the past, it's been a rivalry that's been built up," Ravens Coach Brian Billick said. "I'm sorry they are no longer are in our division. When it's all said and done for me, this series and some of these games are the ones that I'll remember."

Joe Nedney kicked four field goals for Tennessee, which began the day tied for first place with Indianapolis in the AFC South.

Reed, a rookie safety, picked up a blocked punt and returned it 11 yards at the end of Tennessee's first possession, putting the Ravens in front for good.

Matt Stover added field goals for Baltimore of 26 yards in the first period and 43 yards in the third.

Tennessee lost despite holding a lopsided 402-199 advantage in total yards.

"When you can't score touchdowns it's hard to win," Fisher said."It was not our best effort."


With Baltimore owning a 13-9 lead, the Ravens looked as if they were ready to put away the game in the fourth quarter after reaching Tennessee 11.

But Jamal Lewis, who carried 17 times for 95 yards, fumbled and linebacker Frank Chamberlain recovered for the Titans.

McNair followed by engineering his most impressive drive on the afternoon, a 10-play, 78-yard march. He highlighted the drive with a 40-yard completion to Kevin Dyson to the Baltimore 41.

McNair also had a 17-yard connection with Derrick Mason, giving the Titans a first and goal at the seven. But on third down from the three, McNair badly overthrew Mason in the back of the end zone.

Nedney kicked a 21-yard field goal with 4:33 remaining, pulling the Titans within 13-12.

After their defense came up with a stop, the Titans got the ball back inside their own 10 with 2:44 remaining. But after picking up one first down, they turned the ball over on downs when McNair threw low on fourth and two from his own 33.

The final incompletion capped a disappointing day for McNair, who completed 21 of 43 passes for 283 yards. One of his interceptions also came deep in Baltimore territory in the first half and his fumble in the first quarter led to a field goal.


"He was out of the pocket and was running a bit and completed some balls," Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "The object was to keep him in the pocket. I think we did that late in the game."

Tennessee's running game also failed to produce. Eddie George carried 16 times for 61 yards and Robert Holcombe gained 46 on 10 attempts.

While McNair struggled, Ravens starter Jeff Blake also had his share of problems. He completed 11 of 24 passes for just 109 yards and an interception.

With both offenses looking inept, it was a big play on special teams on the game's opening possession that led to the first points.

Punting from deep in his own territory, Craig Hentrich watched Reed break through the line and block his kick. Reed scooped up the ball and returned it 11 yards for the score, giving the Ravens the early lead.

"I was just doing my job," said Reed, who was the Ravens' first-round pick. "I gave a guy a good fake and he bit on it and I just scooped and scored. You don't see a lot of blocked punts and to score on special teams is big."


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