Following the two teams’ playoff match during the 2000 season, the Ravens went on to win their next four regular season games against the Titans. The rivalry took a hit following the 2001 season due to the divisions being realigned following the Houston Texans’ addition to the league.
The Titans were moved to the AFC South, while the Ravens were moved to the AFC North. This caused a gap in between games with each other, but that rivalry was instantly renewed when these teams met on Wild Card weekend following the 2003 season.
Steve McNair’s MVP campaign led the Titans back to the playoffs where another date with Baltimore awaited him.
Prior to this game, all of the national media was preaching the fact that the Titans can’t beat the Ravens in any game, let alone a big one. Combining that belief with the fact that the game was being played in Baltimore this time caused many to predict another Titans playoff defeat at the hands of the purple birds.
However, this Titans team proved to have other ideas and insisted on being different. The game was one of the most physical matchups in the two teams’ entire rivalry.
MVP quarterback Steve McNair was struggling throughout the game, as he threw three interceptions, causing many to believe that they were on their way to another playoff loss. To make matters worse, the Titans’ star running back Eddie George was temporarily knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury, causing even more doubt to creep in.
Understanding the importance of this game for a multitude of reasons, George was able to will himself back to the field and played with the type of passion and heart that made him such a beloved figure within this fan base.
One play in particular stands out whenever you think about that game.
On what was ultimately a short gain, George met Ray Lewis by the sideline and welcomed him with a vicious stiff-arm, causing Eddie to fall forward and land on top of Lewis. George rose to his feet and let out a yell and got in the face of the Ravens linebacker to let him know that Lewis and the Ravens may have gotten them in the past, but they were not going to get them on that day.
The game ultimately came down to the right leg of one of the greatest kickers of his era. Titans kicker Gary Anderson was a 46-yard field goal away from getting many of the original Titans players a victory they had been yearning for since putting on the two-tone blue.
Anderson’s kick hit the cross bar and the ball bounced just over, sealing the Titans’ 20-17 playoff victory over the Ravens and their first win against them in their previous five tries.
The Titans and Ravens rivalry would begin to calm down on the field as the years passed and the teams played in big games less frequently. However, Baltimore continued to take shots at Tennessee off the field as they started to steal some of their most beloved players on the team.
In 2005, Titans receiver Derrick Mason and cornerback Samari Rolle decided to leave Nashville and take their talents to Baltimore, which is something that still rubs many in the fan base the wrong way, as many are still reluctant to forgive them.
The biggest off-the-field blow came when the Titans had the third overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft and decided to move on from franchise legend Steve McNair.
After an ugly breakup, the Titans decided to send McNair to Baltimore where he led the team back to the playoffs before ultimately deciding to retire following the 2007 season.
Seeing McNair end his career with another team hurt enough as it is, but to see him end it in that uniform was a punch to the gut to all real Titans fans, as the Ravens were now officially handing this fan base L’s both on the field and off the field.