The Tennessee Titans have watched teams stack the line all season trying to stop Jamal Lewis.
Now the NFL's top-ranked defense against the run gets its turn when it takes on Lewis and the Ravens (10-6) in Baltimore tomorrow afternon.
The Titans (12-4) held opponents to a league-best 80.9 yards rushing per game, and allowed only Edgerrin James to gain more than 100 yards this season. But Tennessee hasn't had to face Lewis, the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year.
And the Titans think highly of Lewis.
"He's probably the closest thing that anyone has seen to probably Jim Brown," said Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck. "That's a big compliment, but it is what it is."
Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said the Titans can't expect to completely shut down Lewis, who finished with 2,066 yards and was just short of Eric Dickerson's rushing record. The Titans can only hope to slow Lewis.
"All year, teams have put all their energy into stopping Jamal and haven't stopped him. That makes you nervous," Fisher said.
The Titans have been challenged this season by some of the NFL's best running backs, and only James got the best of them as he ran for 120 yards in a 33-7 Colts victory in September. Stephen Davis gained just 20 yards. Deuce McAllister had just 23, and Ricky Williams gained a mere 37 yards on 13 attempts.
Titans on offense -- Health is the only question mark. Quarterback Steve McNair practiced Wednesday, taking part in every drill for the first time in more than a month. McNair, who missed two of the final three regular-season games with nagging leg injuries, finished with 3,215 yards and 24 TDs with only seven interceptions. Eddie George got another 1,000-yard season -- barely -- but averaged only 3.3 yards per carry with five TDs.
Ravens on offense -- Anthony Wright may not be the quarterback of the future for the Ravens -- rookie Kyle Boller is -- but he directed the team to five wins in six games since taking over. Wright has thrown for nine TDs against six INTs.
Titans on defense -- The Titans' best run defense this season has been their offense. Tennessee has had plenty of early leads this year, forcing opponents to abandon the run and go to the air in an attempt to catch up. Tennessee faced only 342 rushing attempts, the fewest in the NFL. The linebacking corps is the strength of the defense. Bulluck led Tennessee with 177 tackles, and Peter Sirmon ranked second with 141.
Ravens on defense -- Although not as dominant as 2000's record-setting defense, the Ravens still are a force behind Ray Lewis, the league's best linebacker. Baltimore ranked third in the league in total defense and sixth in scoring defense. Safety Ed Reed had seven interceptions, most among AFC players in the playoffs.
Special teams -- The Ravens' Matt Stover is in his 14th season, but he's a solid as ever. He converted 33 of 38 field goals -- with a long of 49 yards -- and was fourth in the NFL in points with 134. Give the edge to Tennessee in punting: Craig Hentrich led the AFC with a 37.8-yard net average, tops among all playoff punters.
Miscellany -- The Ravens have beaten the Titans five straight times . . . Titans receiver Derrick Mason led the AFC with 35 third-down receptions, and had 1,303 receiving yards, second-most in club history behind Charles Hennigan in 1964 (1,561). Mason became the first player in club history to record three consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards . . . Baltimore's 41 takeaways tied it with the Patriots for most in the NFL.