A new era of Titans football began in familiar territory, as their infamous 2008 squad that was widely considered by many as the best team in football that year. McNair and George were both retired, and a young rookie phenom was seemingly ready to become the next superstar that the team had been longing for ever since their departure.
Rookie running back Chris Johnson, journeyman quarterback Kerry Collins, and a stout defense helped Tennessee start the 2008 season an impressive 10-0 before receiving their first loss to the Brett Favre-led Jets.
That 10-game winning streak included a 13-10 Week 5 victory over the Ravens off a late touchdown pass from Collins to tight end Alge Crumpler.
Tennessee went on to win eight of their final 11 games in order to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, as well as tie their franchise-best record of 13-3 (1999 and 2000).
Following a dominant 27-9 victory over Miami, the sixth-seeded Ravens, led by a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback, earned the right to play the Titans in the postseason for the third time in eight years.
Similarly to 2000, the Titans were 13-3, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and the overwhelming favorites to win it all going into the tournament.
And once again Baltimore was going to play the spoiler role for them. Despite out-gaining the Ravens 391-211, Tennessee very uncharacteristically shot themselves in the foot too many times to overcome.
The team had three inexcusable turnovers on the day, and none were more gut-wrenching than Crumpler’s fumble at the goal line in what would have likely sealed the game the way both defenses were playing.
A Titans team that had played extremely clean football all year decided to play their messiest game of the year against the Ravens once again.
It should be noted, however, that Baltimore did receive suspect help throughout that game with suspicious injuries and negligent officiating.
To start the game, Johnson was doing what he had done to everyone all year, which was carve up defenses with his 4.24 speed. Johnson scored a first quarter touchdown and looked like he was on his way to another monstrous game, as he racked up 100 total yards on 12 touches through one and a half quarters of play.
It was then when several Ravens players seemed to attack Johnson not only late, but could also be seen twisting his ankle at the bottom of the pile. The dirty plan by the Ravens worked as the Titans running back was out the rest of the game and forced the team to go forward without their most explosive player.
As if that wasn’t enough help, with less than three minutes remaining and the score tied at 10, Baltimore once again received questionable (to say the least) assistance from the officials on a crucial third-and-2.
The play clock ran out by a good one to two seconds and the officials negligently missed the call, which is even more absurd considering the fact that they will usually call the delay of game the millisecond that the clock hits zero in many cases.
Instead, Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco completed a huge pass to tight end Todd Heap that put Baltimore past midfield in a game in which both teams were struggling to do so. It was a pass that should not have counted nonetheless.
Matt Stover ended up putting the nail in the coffin for Tennessee on that same drive, as he kicked the game-winning 43-yard field goal with less than a minute remaining. The Ravens ultimately beat the Titans 13-10, which ironically is the same score that they defeated the Ravens with earlier in the year.
Needless to say, Baltimore got the last laugh by winning the more important of the two meetings and once again spoiled what should have been a dream season.